DENVER — Much of the state of Colorado is under a red flag warning for fire danger on Wednesday.
The red flag warning spans from Fort Collins down to Pueblo and from Buena Vista to the eastern half of the state. The warning will last until about 7 p.m. on Wednesday and will run from about 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Thursday.
There are several factors that play into the high fire dangers. They include warm weather with temperatures expected to be in the high 70s, strong winds with gusts of up to 35 miles per hour, low humidity and overall dry conditions.
“We think about open flames as being one of the biggest hazards, but it’s really anything that generates heat or anything that can cause a spark or an open flame is what we’re worried about,” said South Metro Fire Rescue spokesperson Eric Hurst.
Because of that, fire stations across the state are taking extra precautions and are asking the public to do the same.
On red flag warning days, fire stations send out a higher number of units than normal to each call of a fire to try to prevent it from spreading.
“On a typical day when a small brush fire gets reported, (which is) less in acre in size, we send two fire trucks; one is the standard fire engine that people are used to seeing and the other is going to be a 4 x 4 brush truck that’s meant to go off roads. So generally, it’s just two vehicles. But on a red flag warning day no matter what the size of the brush fire that gets reported, we basically triple or greater that response immediately,” Hurst said.
Because Colorado experienced an unusually dry winter, May, June and July are expected to be particularly hot and dry.
That’s why fire stations are asking for people to look around the outside of their homes and see if there are any fire risks.
Here are a few tips to keep your property safe:
Clean the gutters around your home and clear them of debris
Check for dead branches and trees and have them removed
Don’t use power tools that spark on red flag warning days or windy days
Keep your lawns mowed and healthy
Make sure your family has a fire plan and check you the fire wise program
Know the fire restrictions in your county
Be careful where you throw cigarette butts or matches
No open fires on red flag warning days
“The other thing people should do regardless of whether they live in the South Metro Fire District or anywhere else is make sure they’ve signed up for emergency phone notifications. It’s what people traditionally referred to as reverse 911 calls,” Hurst said.
Those calls will warn people in a particular area if there is a danger nearby or if an evacuation has been ordered.
Hurst says something as simple as mowing your lawn can also spark a fire on these red flag warning days.
“The best wildland fires the one that never get started. Then certainly if a fire does get started and if it does move toward somebody’s house the best thing that will save the house is good mitigation well before the fire ever got there,” Hurst said.