Historically, March is when Grand Junction Fire Department begins seeing a steep increase in wildfire calls; jumping from an historical average of 5 calls in February, to 17 calls in March.
GJFD and other agencies in the valley depend on citizens to make responsible choices and prevent wildfires from happening in the first place. Knowing and observing Red Flag warnings plays a critical role. Red flags mean that conditions exist that if a fire starts, it will be extremely difficult or even impossible for crews to control, and it is important to avoid risky fire behavior on those days. Citizens can also use spring cleanup as an opportunity to create a defensible space around their homes by trimming trees and clearing brush within the first 10-30 feet of their home. Defensible space allows crews the safety and access in a wildfire to prioritize and protect homes.
Of the major fires in Mesa County in the last three years, most have been caused by human factors including: chains dragging on the roadways, working with hot or sparking machinery outside, fireworks, and ignoring Red Flag warnings. During open burning season in Grand Junction it is imperative that you prepare prior to burning. Check the weather forecast for any burn bans or Red Flag warnings and make sure you have water or other extinguishing source equal to the size of your fire.
New this year, GJFD is partnering with Colorado Department of Parks and Wildlife and District 51 Schools to provide wildfire education to all of the district’s 6th graders through the Outdoor Wilderness Learning (OWL) center in Gateway, CO. In the classes, students learn about defensible space, fire behavior, and human factors that cause or increase the risk of wildfire.
For more information on this incident contact the Community Outreach Office at (970)549-5858 or by e-mail at GJFirePIO@gjcity.org.