Fire Mitigation on the Southeastern Plains of Colorado

CSU Extension WebsiteFire is always a concern for the Southeastern Plains of Colorado, but with the dry conditions currently being experienced it is should be even more so.  

Of course another issue we have this time of year is winds. The combination of dry conditions and wind can give afire a head start in a short time. Landowners and homeowners should be aware of practices that will not stop a fire should one occur, but may lessen the property damage that results from a fire.  

Federal Emergency Management has a fact sheet that give homeowners precautions they can take to help prevent damage toothier homes and outbuildings. Suggestions for at least 30 feet around the house or outbuildings include:

• Remove vines from the walls of the house.  In Southeast Colorado this also includes tumbleweeds that may accumulate on the downwind side of buildings.
• Move shrubs and other landscaping away from the sides of the house.
• Prune branches and shrubs within 15 feet of chimneys and stove pipes.
• Remove tree limbs within 15 feet of the ground.
• Thin a 15-foot space between tree crowns.
• Replace highly flammable vegetation such as pine, eucalyptus, junipers and fir trees with lower growing, less flammable species.
• Replace vegetation that has living or dead branches from the ground-level up (these act as ladder fuels for the approaching fire).
• Cut the lawn often keeping the grass at a maximum of 2inches. Watch grass and other vegetation near the driveway, a source of ignition from automobile exhaust systems.
• Clear the area of leaves, brush, evergreen cones, dead limbs and fallen trees.
More suggestions can be found at:  

Basically it pays to keep the area around your house and outbuildings cleaned up, do not let flammable material accumulate in high risk areas. Choices of construction material also have an effect on the outcome of a fire.
Basic recommendations include:
• Choose locations wisely; canyon and slope locations increase the risk of exposure to wildland fires.
• Avoid designs that include wooden decks and patios.
• Use non-combustible materials for the roof.
• The roof is especially vulnerable in a wildfire. Embers and flaming debris can travel great distances, land on your roof and start a new fire. Avoid flammable roofing materials such as wood, shake and shingle. Materials that are more fire resistant include single ply membranes, fiberglass shingles, slate, metal, clay and concrete tile. Clear gutters of leaves and debris. Along with the FEMA website listed above, other resources including: or contact your local Extension Office: Baca County 719-523-6971, Bent County 719-456-0764, Cheyenne County 719-767-5716, Crowley County 719-267-5243, Kiowa County 719-438-5321, Otero County 719-254-7608, Prowers County 719-336-7734.  

Contact: Bruce Fickenscher CSU Extension Agent Range and Livestock 719-438-5321


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