Keep fire at bay

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Keep fire at bay

‘Defensible space’ best way to fight blazes
Jeff Martinez of M&M Enterprises works to reduce fire danger at Mockingbird Valley Court below the Timberline subdivision. Pam Wilson, who coordinates Firewise of Southwest Colorado fire-safety projects, said 2011 has been dry, making it more important to clear fuels for fires around houses.
Gustavo Cruz works with M&M Enterprises clearing out underbrush and dry foliage in preparation for the Durango fire season. Fire officials say homeowners should take the first line of responsibility in protecting their homes from wildland fires by clearing potential fuels from around their houses.

Keep fire at bay

Jeff Martinez of M&M Enterprises works to reduce fire danger at Mockingbird Valley Court below the Timberline subdivision. Pam Wilson, who coordinates Firewise of Southwest Colorado fire-safety projects, said 2011 has been dry, making it more important to clear fuels for fires around houses.
Gustavo Cruz works with M&M Enterprises clearing out underbrush and dry foliage in preparation for the Durango fire season. Fire officials say homeowners should take the first line of responsibility in protecting their homes from wildland fires by clearing potential fuels from around their houses.
Neighbors craft their own community protection plans

A number of communities in La Plata County have taken the concept of fire safety beyond protecting individual dwellings.
A Community Wildfire Protection Plan, which covers a neighborhood or subdivision, is accomplished by residents pulling together, said Pam Wilson, who coordinates Firewise of Southwest Colorado projects.
“A community wildfire project is a look at the big picture,” Wilson said. “It involves some work, but it’s worth the effort.”
Deer Valley Estates, a subdivision six miles east of Bayfield, won the National Fire Prevention Association’s Firewise Communities/USA award in January for its community wildfire-prevention efforts.
During 2009 and most of 2010, volunteer residents spent more than 500 hours removing 265 trees along four miles of subdivision roads.
They also installed two 10,000-gallon underground water tanks for firefighters, removed flammable vegetation from around buildings and put up reflective address signs on all 84 lots in the subdivision.
Durango West I and Durango West II also have plans, Wilson said. Forest Lakes and Falls Creek are nearly done, she said.
Federal and state money sometimes is available for such projects.
The program is doing nicely, given the length of time since a major fire occurred, Wilson said.
She was referring to the 2002 Missionary Ridge Fire that charred 72,000 acres and destroyed 50 houses and other buildings.
She urged homeowners not to let complacency sneak in.
daler@ durangoherald.com

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