With dry, warmer weather moving in and winds increasing, fire risk is on the rise in Elbert County. As of press time, the county was at a Stage II burn restriction, which can be found at elbertcounty-co.gov/AlertCenter.
In an email exchange from April 19, Chief Cass Kilduff of the Rattlesnake Fire Protection District offered information to residents about reducing fire risk and staying safe during this high-risk period.
“Planning ahead is important. Make sure the family is on the same page on what to do in the event of a wildfire,” explained Kilduff. “Residents need to be aware of Red Flag days and be extra cautious during those times with outdoor activities. It is also important to plan ahead for evacuation of large and small animals.”
As of April 18, Colorado has seen a two-week streak of Red Flag days across much of the state. According to the National Weather Service, a Red Flag Warning means warm temperatures, very low humidity, and stronger winds are expected to combine to produce an increased risk of fire danger.
Typically, fire departments across the nation will respond with increased caution during Red Flag days. According to Kilduff, the Rattlesnake Fire Protection District maintains extra manpower during Red Flag days.
The Elbert County News also took a tour of the Rattlesnake Fire Protection District facilities on April 19. Lt. David Scott lead the tour of the facilities and educated on brush fire safety.
“Lightning causes more brush fires than anything,” said Scott. “The best way to protect your home from a creeping brush fire is to cut down tall grasses and eliminate those close to your home.”
Scott also gave a detailed overview of the department’s deployment rig, a large vehicle designed to help fight brush fires. The vehicle holds 400 gallons of water and is equipped with tools to combat any brush fire in Elbert County. According to Scott, during summer months the deployment rig is typically used daily.
“Every shift, we come in and start the vehicle. We make sure everything is flowing right, it’s gassed up, and ready to work,” said Scott. “In an emergency, I know the rig is going to start because I tested it that morning.”
Both Scott and Kilduff expressed the importance of the Code Red emergency alert system, the best way for Elbert County residents to be aware of brush fires and other local emergencies.
Chief Kilduff encouraged residents to get connected to the Elbert County emergency alert system. “All residents should make sure they are signed up with Code Red through Elbert County,” said Kilduff. “Very vital information during a fire event comes from this service.”
Kilduff also said that they would do what they could to help residents in their 66-square-mile district in preparation for brush fire safety. “The Rattlesnake Fire Protection District wants to help protect the people of Elbert County,” said Kilduff. “We would be glad to come out to any resident’s property and help them with a fire mitigation inspection.”
For a list of Elbert County Fire Protection Districts and Departments, please visit elbertcounty-co.gov/BusinessDirectoryII.aspx?lngBusinessCategoryID=22
To learn more about the Rattlesnake Fire Protection District, please visit sites.google.com/a/rattlesnakefirerescue.com/rattlesnake-fire-protection-district/welcome-to-the-rattlesnake-fire-protection-district
For Elbert County burn restriction information, please visit elbertcounty-co.gov/176/Burn-Restriction-Information
For information on Code Red notifications, visit elbertcounty-co.gov/177/CodeRED-Notifications
For a guide to preparing a home for wildfire and creating defensible space, visit elbertcounty-co.gov/DocumentCenter/View/1820/The-Home-Ignition-Zone-PDF