Our View: We all have to work to help protect Vail Valley from fire (editorial)
April 3, 2018
A pair of fires on Sunday, April 1, have local fire officials looking closely at our dry conditions. We all should do the same.
The biggest of the fires was roughly two acres in Edwards that came perilously close to the Brett Trail neighborhood. There were no injuries and no property damage, but if the wind had blown in a slightly different direction, or if firefighters hadn't been on the scene in a matter minutes, the fire could have been much worse.
The second fire, at a residence in Avon, could also have been much worse. There, someone left a cigarette butt in an outdoor ashtray without putting it out completely. It's likely that Sunday's high winds helped that little ember spark a fire.
Again, there was no major damage — all of it on the exterior of the unit. This time, the fire was near the Eagle River Fire Protection District's station in Avon, and firefighters were on the scene in a matter of minutes.
Fire officials say the period in spring until vegetation greens up is one of the most dangerous times of the year. This year, with little snow on the ground, the situation is more dangerous still. And, unless our valley gets some thorough, soaking storms in the next several weeks, conditions will only worsen.
There's a good chance that fire officials will impose restrictions soon. This might be the summer to buy that propane-fueled portable fire pit for the backyard.
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More seriously, if you haven't already, then this might also be the summer to take a serious look at creating defensible space around your home. Local agencies have for some time worked with programs including Fire Wise, and fire departments are generally happy to send people to your home to offer advice.
This might also be a good year to understand what you need to quickly evacuate your home, or to stay away for a while if a fire strikes while you're at work.
Then, of course, is the matter of being more careful than you've ever been with fire. If you smoke, then make sure the butts are completely extinguished. If you have a campfire, then soak it with at least a gallon of water and stir the ashes.
Our valley has been tremendously fortunate over the years when it comes to serious wildfires. To keep it that way will require paying attention and doing a bit of extra work.
The Vail Daily Editorial Board is Publisher Mark Wurzer, Editor Krista Driscoll and Business Editor Scott Miller.
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