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Last updated 10:01AM ET
December 14, 2017
KSUT Regional
KSUT Regional
It's Wildfire Prevention and Preparedness Month
(2008-05-19)
(ksut) - HOST LEAD: Two years ago tomorrow, wildfire came uncomfortably close to Durango, burning several acres in Durango Mountain Park.
The impacts of that fire, and the Missionary Ridge and Valley Fires of 2002 continue to drive Wildfire Prevention and Preparedness month activities now underway.
KSUT's Victor Locke reports.

VICTOR: Birds enjoy a plethora of seeds and berries available on new vegetation sprouting on Durango Mountain Park, just west of downtown.
Two years ago tomorrow, a sudden wildfire burned several acres of the park, forcing evacuations of nearby homes.
Forest Service Mitigation and Education specialist Craig Goodell, who helped fight the fire, says that blaze was a wake up call for the city.
GOODELL: WITHIN THE CITY OF DURANGO IF WE HAD A TWENTY OR FORTY ACRE FIRE IN SOME OF THOSE PLACES WE COULD LOSE A LOT OF HOMES AND NOT BURN A LOT OF ACRES.
Goodell says just because we had a snowy winter, it doesn't ease the threat of wildfire.
Until late last week, we've had a mostly dry spring.
The extended drought has taken a toll on forest health making it more susceptible to fires.
Goodell says it's difficult to predict what type of fire season lies ahead.
GOODELL: WE'RE NOT REALLY SURE WHICH DIRECTION IT'S GOING TO GO. WE'RE IN A PRETTY STRONG LA NINA, WHICH TYPICALLY DURING LA NINA EVENTS THAT'S REAL DRY IN THE SOUTHWEST. WHERE IT GOES FROM HERE WE'RE NOT SURE. THE WEATHER FORECASTERS ARE SAYING THE MODERATE LA NINA IS GOING TO CONTINUE AND THAT'S GOING TO GIVE US EITHER AN AVERAGE OR SLIGHTLY DELAYED MONSOON. IF THAT HAPPENS WE SHOULD HAVE AN AVERAGE TO MAYBE SLIGHTLY MORE ACTIVE FIRE SEASON.
The fire season has already begun in New Mexico and Arizona with several significant wildfires.
Goodell says the best defense against wildfire for individual homeowners is to build defensible space around their homes by clearing fuels.
GOODELL: WILDFIRES COVER SUCH A LARGE AREA, THERE ARE SO MANY HOMES THAT ARE AFFECTED ALL AT ONCE OFTEN THAT WE CAN'T PROTECT EVERY HOME.
One emphasis of Wildfire Prevention and Preparedness month is expansion of the Firewise Fire Ambassadors program, which Marsha Porter Norton says has grown steadily over the last four years.
NORTON: WE HAVE 54 AMBASSADORS IN VARIOUS HOMEOWNERS ASSOCIATIONS AND SUBDIVISIONS. IT COVERS ARCHULETA, MONTEZUMA AND LA PLATA COUNTIES. WE STARTED WITH 11 IN 2004 AND NOW WE'RE UP TO 54. WHAT AMBASSADORS DO, THEY DO NOT HAVE TO BE EXPERTS IN WILDFIRE. THEY LINK THEIR NEIGHBORS TO TRUSTED INFORMATION, THEY MIGHT BRING IN FIRE DEPARTMENTS TO WALK PROPERTIES AND DO A LOT OF EDUCATION, THEY PLAN MITIGATION DAYS. REALLY WE'RE TRYING TO GET NEIGHBORHOODS TO MOBILIZE THEMSELVES.
A Fire Ambassadors orientation program is being offered this Thursday at the Public Lands Center in Durango.
Porter-Norton says anyone can attend, but they would really like to increase participation across the region.
NORTON: MOST OF OUR AMBASSADORS ARE IN LA PLATA COUNTY BUT WE HAVE, WE WANT TO GET MORE AMBASSADORS IN ARCHULETA AND MONTEZUMA COUNTY'S BECAUSE THOSE AREAS ARE AT EQUALLY AS HIGH RISK FOR WILD FIRE.
The orientation Thursday starts at 5:30.
If you'd like more information on the Ambassadors program you can call 247-8306.
From KSUT, Four Corners Public Radio, I'm Victor Locke.
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