Summit creates wildfire evacuation guide
Summit County correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado
SUMMIT COUNTY ” With wildfire season on the horizon, and local forests filled with dry fuels, county officials want to make sure residents know exactly what to do in the rare event of an evacuation due to a fire in their neighborhood.
A new evacuation guide being distributed around the county urges pre-planning for such an incident and explains the county’s wildfire evacuation policy and its wildfire notification system.
At the onset of a wildfire that potentially threatens a large geographic area, local authorities will implement a public alert system that includes three steps:
– Wildfire Watch: A general message to the public that places citizens on notice that a wildfire could evolve into a greater threat and people should take steps to prepare for evacuation or shelter.
– Wildfire Warning: A specific notice for residents in the direct line of a progressing wildfire. The warning will contain instructions to finalize evacuation preparations by assembling family members, pets and organizing important documents.
– Evacuation Notice: A mandatory evacuation noticed issued for a specific geographic area. It will only be issued in instances where public safety authorities have determined an immediate threat to life safety exists, and are considered a last resort.
The evacuation guide also includes suggestions on creating an evacuation kit and developing a family evacuation plan.
The guide is part of a public education effort to inform the people of the great risk of wildfires this summer and their role in preventing fires. Being careless with matches, using a mechanical equipment that can create sparks, like chainsaws, and not completely dousing campfires are all actions that have potential to grow into a catastrophic wildfire.
“The Smoky the Bear message: Only you can prevent forest fires has become really true in a county where if we have a wildfire it could become very serious,” said county emergency manager Joel Cochran.
The county has also started a new wildfire mitigation website to act as a single resource for all things wildfire-related, including mitigation requirements, tree removal services and, soon, the wildfire evacuation guide.
The guide will also be distributed through HOAs, at town government places of business, at grocery stores and will be available through the fire departments.
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