Still Waters: Everyone has a part in fire prevention

We were afraid it was coming. The San Luis Valley, like too many other places in our beautiful state, was a tinderbox ready to explode when ignited. With drought conditions rivaling our historic driest years, we just did not have the moisture we needed to keep our rivers flowing and our forests vibrant.

We already experienced one wildfire this year in the western part of the Valley. On Wednesday, the eastern side erupted. As of this writing Thursday afternoon, the Spring Fire had consumed at least 4,000 acres and was 0 percent contained. Structures had been lost, but we did not yet know how many.

The fire has been burning in the Trinchera-Forbes Park area where there are more than 300 houses. The folks have been evacuated from the park and from nearby developments as the fire has advanced, and along with it our dedicated firefighters.

Barely stopping to sleep, and working in long arduous shifts, our firefighters and dozer operators have battled to save structures, make sure folks are safe and try to stop the spread of the fire. They are a well-trained, organized and dedicated group of folks that we are incredibly blessed to have among us. Keep these folks in your prayers, as fire can be fickle and unforgiving.

They have a tough battle still ahead, I’m afraid.

We can all do our part to prevent fires and to cooperate with authorities when they do occur.

We can strictly abide by the open fire ban, which is area wide. Forgo the s’mores and wieners at the campfire, and if you must smoke, do it in your car. It only takes a little spark to get a fire going, especially when it is this dry. We can’t do much about lightning-precipitated fires, but we can prevent human-caused ones.

We can strictly observe the fireworks ban, which I know is a bummer at the Fourth of July but is non-negotiable when it comes to preventing fires during such dry conditions as those we are currently experiencing. Don’t buy them. Don’t light them up. Period.

We can cooperate with officials during emergencies. When authorities issue an evacuation, please evacuate. Folks who remain in dangerous situations put others at risk when firefighters have to go in and rescue them because they did not get out in time. Grab your box with important papers, your medications, your spouse, kids and your dog, and get out. Almost everything you own can be replaced.

Thank you, fellow residents, for doing your part to prevent fires, and thank you, firefighters and other emergency responders, for doing your part to control the fires when they do blaze up.

Keep each other safe.


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