SNOWMASS VILLAGE - Even as snow continued to dump April 15 in the Roaring Fork Valley, local fire districts say they're bracing for a wildfire season that has the potential to rival last year's drier-than-normal spring, summer and fall.
The National Weather Service issued its first local "red-flag warning" last week when drought conditions combined with low humidity and high winds developed in advance of a spring snowstorm.
Last year, there was a fire ban in effect on April 5, and the area saw its first wildfire on April 7, noted Pitkin County Deputy Sheriff Jeff Lumsden, who's leading a multi-jurisdictional wildfire-incident-management team.
"It's a little wetter this spring than last, but we're still in a serious drought. It won't take many dry, sunny, windy days to exacerbate the wildfire threat," he said in a statement.
Representatives of fire districts from Carbondale to Aspen have begun planning a comprehensive community-outreach and -education program based on the national "Ready, Set, Go" format, emphasizing preparedness. More information can be found at www.wildlandfirersg.org.
Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper has proclaimed May 4 Colorado Wildfire Preparedness Day of Service and is encouraging Coloradans to commit to spending the day or a portion of it doing something to prepare for wildfire season.
"Preparation can include anything from clearing brush and trees away from your home to creating an evacuation plan for your family," Lumsden said.
A series of local community meetings with fire districts is planned in May and June. They are intended to familiarize residents with their local firefighters and distribute wildfire-preparedness information.
The meeting for residents of Snowmass Village and the surrounding areas will be from 6 to 8 p.m. on June 19 at the Snowmass Wildcat Fire Protection District, located at 5275 Owl Creek Road.
For more information, contact Blair Weyer, wildfire public information officer, at 970-315-2478.