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Fire Crews On Standby As Strong Wind Gusts, Elevated Fire Danger Expected Across Colorado

BOULDER, Colo. (CBS4)- Fire crews around the state are on heightened alert with high winds expected across much of Colorado the next few days. Since it seems Mother Nature isn't giving firefighters a break, they're asking all of us to be even more careful.

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"We're tired. I'm tired," said Erin Doyle, a Wildland Operations Specialist with Boulder Fire Rescue.

Between the recent NCAR Fire and Debra rating Marshall Fire, first responders like Doyle are understandably worn out.

"Knowing I have to be here 24/7 these next few days while this wind event is happening is definitely wearing on me and my crew," he told CBS4's Kelly Werthmann.

Doyle explained Boulder Fire crews check the forecast every day, oftentimes speaking directly with meteorologists at the National Weather service. With extremely windy conditions blowing into Boulder, there is concern for what could happen next.

RELATED: Denver Weather: Very Strong Wind And Elevated Fire Danger Expected Tuesday

"Any spark that lands in a receptive fuel bed like grasses can take off really quickly," Doyle said. "And as we've seen recently, fire can move instantaneously across the landscape."

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Monday evening and into Tuesday wind gusts as strong as 80 mph are expected. That has BFR preparing for numerous emergency calls.

"So that triggered us to increase our staffing across the city for wildfire response," Doyle said. "If a tree gets blown down and it hits a power line, those powerlines arc potentially starting a fire. Those are the kinds of calls we're really anticipating."

In the high wind conditions combined with the low humidity, it doesn't take much to spark a flame. Even things you may not think could ignite a disaster.

"Things like even mowing your lawn and hitting a rock can cause a spark that can possibly start a fire," said Doyle.

It's an important reminder for all of us to take extra precautions, not only to reduce fire risks but to help those who have already given so much to keep us safe.

"We've been through quite a bit and it would be nice to get a break," said Doyle.

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A bit of a break can be seen as Spring arrives. Trees are starting to bloom and grasses aren't as brown — a "green up" as Doyle explained — indicating new plant growth and the potential reduction in fire danger. Still, fires can happen anytime and we all must remain vigilant.

Additional Information From Xcel Energy:

Xcel Energy has increased staffing levels and put operational plans in place to make sure key employees, including line workers, are available and able to respond to outages that may occur due to the wind moving into the state this week.

We understand losing power can be a major inconvenience for customers, so we plan and prepare for weather that may cause outages. Xcel Energy crews are ready to quickly and safely restore electric service to customers.

Report your outage

Customers can help Xcel Energy get a jump on power restoration by reporting outages. Customers have several ways to report outages.

  • Online at xcelenergy.com/out
  • Text 'OUT' to 98936 to report an outage, or text STAT to the same number to check the status of a power outage.
  • Call 1-800-895-1999 and follow the prompts—the automated phone reporting system lets customers report outages in less than 60 seconds. Once the cause of the problem is identified, the system or an Xcel Energy representative will provide customers with an estimated restoration time.

 Stay informed

If outages occur, it's important for customers to have access to the most recent updates about their power restoration. Customers can stay informed by visiting the Xcel Energy website. Additionally, the website hosts an outage map that displays information on the number of customers out and anticipated time for restoration. Customers can also stay informed by following Xcel Energy on Facebook and Twitter.

Other ways customers can prepare, stay safe

  • Stay away from downed power lines. Always assume an electric line, even one that is on or near the ground, is energized and therefore dangerous. Never, under any circumstance, touch or move a downed power line. If you come across a downed power line, leave the area and report it immediately by calling 1-800-895-1999.
  • Build a home emergency kit. Xcel Energy recommends assembling an easily accessible kit that can be used in the event of a power outage. Useful items may include:
    • Xcel Energy phone numbers - 1-800-895-1999 for residential or 1-800-481-4700 for business
    • Battery-powered radio or television
    • Flashlights
    • Batteries
    • Back up phone chargers
    • A phone that does not require electricity
    • Non-electric alarm clock
    • Bottled water and nonperishable food
    • Manual can opener
    • First aid kit
    • Extension cords (for partial outages)
    • Manufacturer's instructions on how to manually open power-operated doors (e.g., garage doors)
  • Heating safety. If using a space heater, take care to ensure safety as more than 65,000 home fires are attributed to heating equipment each year in the United States, according to the Electrical Safety Foundation International. When using a space heater, make sure the heater has the label showing it is listed by a recognized testing laboratory, and read the manufacturer's instructions and warning labels. Additionally, inspect heaters for cracked or broken plugs and connections; don't use it if they are frayed, worn or damaged. Never leave a space heater unattended. Turn it off when leaving a room and don't go to sleep with a space heater on. Additionally, Xcel Energy offers rebates and incentives to install energy efficient furnaces and insulation.
  • Observe food safety. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, food safety is directly related to the temperature of the food. To maintain refrigerator and freezer temperatures, keep doors closed as much as possible. A full freezer will stay at freezing temperatures for approximately two days and a half-full freezer approximately one day. Visit the USDA website for more information.

EMERGENCY COMPONENT - LOCAL

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