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Concern Heightens Over Dry Weather That Creates Fuel For Fire

ASPEN, Colo. (CBS4) - Some places in Colorado are already preparing for wildfire season. Aspen is one such town, where local organizations are hoping to stop any disaster before it starts.

Over the past few years Pitkin County has been lucky enough to stay away from any massive wildfires, but officials think that it's only a matter of time.

"I think the hazard here is the adjacent forest fuel load in the higher elevations," said Darryl Grob. He used to be a fire chief in Aspen and is now in charge of fire mitigation for the entire county.

trees fuel fire
Dry trees act as fuel for wildfires, even for towns built in the flat lands (credit: CBS)

"I also think the lessons we learned on the Front Range about accumulating fuel load and ember deposit zones that caused so much destruction over there, has raised awareness," he said.

Grob said areas like Basalt and Aspen remain safe because the cities aren't built within dense forests, as are other parts of the state.

"Most of the private property, structures, homes and municipalities, are here down in the flat lands of the valleys, but we have a tremendous fuel load that has accumulated."

If conditions are hot, dry and windy enough, the safety net could be gone, and "the potential for those embers to be deposited on our homes is going up so we're very interested in working against that," explained Grob.



This week the county held its first wildfire council, gathering federal, state, and local fire resources to talk about the issues.

Grob described it as, "an opportunity to identify, prioritize and mitigate across those boundaries in a cooperative way. Across the region is increasing due to climate, fuel change, and fire suppression efforts over the years. It's necessary to avoid that potential for the catastrophic event in our county."

Grob said they're following models established in Summit and Eagle counties, And hope that the hard work now will mean limiting the possibility for a catastrophic fire in the future.

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