With this year’s above average temperatures leading to snow pack being below average, dry conditions are predicted through July 2018. This means that the threat of wildfire this spring is higher than normal. As a result, the Angel Fire Fire Department (AFFD) needs the help of the entire community.
AFFD recently held a few community meetings to discuss how Angel Fire residents can help. Although these meetings were directed to Angel Fire residents, this information can be useful for all mountain communities within the Enchanted Circle. Here’s what we learned.
Although wildfires can be caused by natural events such as lightening strikes, almost 84% of wildfire are caused by humans! With our current dry conditions, residents and guests need to comply with the current Burn Ban. These fire restrictions will be printed on the back of your water bill, but in general, no outdoor burning, fires, fireworks or smoking allowed. AFFD will begin night shifts to patrol for illegal outdoor fires. Residents also need to properly dispose of fireplace ash.
In addition to fire restrictions, residents also need to clear their properties of excess outdoor brush. Tree thinning is the most effective way to create a defensible space that can protect you and your home from wildfires and can also serve a cosmetic purpose! The current guideline recommends that trees are at least 30 feet from a structure with a minimum of 10 feet between trees. However, AFFD especially needs your help clearing ground and ladder fuels from your property in order to prevent the spread of fires. Ground fuels are any debris that can carry a fire across the ground. Ladder fuels are any debris that can encourage a fire to travel from the ground up to a tree canopy.
The Forest Stewards Guild has recently published a Home Hazard Assessment Guide and Worksheet to assist you in fire proofing your property. In addition, AFFD is willing to inspect your property and make further recommendations. In the event of a wildfire, AFFD will do everything they can to save your home. However, properties that have been thinned will take priority over homes that have excess ground and ladder fuels.
After your property has been appropriately thinned, you will need to remove yard waste, or slash. The Village of Angel Fire will remove your slash through the grant-funded Slash Removal Program. Slash will then be chipped and repurposed.
Reducing wildfire risks needs to be a community wide effort. With everyone’s cooperation, we can protect both the safety of Angel Fire residents as well as the natural beauty that brought us all here to begin with.