Wildfire Preparedness Day events celebrated locally

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Photo courtesy Bill Trimarco
Local groups perform activities to mark Wildfire Community Preparedness Day on May 4. The day included a spring cleanup and a wildland-urban interface checkpoint.

By Bill Trimarco
Special to The SUN
May is Wildfire Awareness Month. Jared Polis, the governor of Colorado, and the governors of 10 other states have signed a proclamation to officially declare it as such. On a national level, Saturday, May 4, was Wildfire Community Preparedness Day. Across the country, local groups performed activities to mark the event. Here in Pagosa Country, two events were held.
Residents on the Lower Blanco set up a WUI checkpoint on County Road 335. WUI is the acronym for wildland-urban interface, which is the area where wildfire and homes come together. Almost every home in Archuleta County is within the WUI boundaries and can be touched by wildfire or the embers that blow ahead of the fire. At the checkpoint, volunteers handed out one-page reminders to their neighbors about the threat of wildfire in their community. Some important things to check, clean up suggestions and contact numbers were also on the sheet. In previous years, these checkpoints have also been set up by other communities in order to spread the word.
The other local project was Operation Helping Hands. Over a dozen volunteers and members of the Archuleta County Emergency Management team went out and did some spring wildfire cleaning for elderly and disabled residents in the Pagosa Lakes area. The group split into teams and headed out to the homes of six participants in need of help. The efforts concentrated on removing combustibles from under decks and within 30 feet of the homes. Most of the work involved raking and bagging pine needles within that first 30 feet.
This spring cleanup helped protect our neighbors who can no longer help themselves. There were a lot of contributions to this project beyond that of the volunteer crews. The Pagosa Lakes Property Owners Association, Wildfire Adapted Partnership, the National Fire Protection Association, Firewise/USA and others had a hand in making this happen. The volunteers celebrated with a barbecue afterwards at the Pagosa Lakes administration building.
For more information on how to prepare your home for wildfire season, go to wildfireadapted.org or call 385-8909.