Fire mitigation key to home survival

Montezuma County Firewise coordinator Rebecca Samulski gestures during a tour of East Canyon on Saturday to demonstrate the effect of fire mitigation. Enlargephoto

Caleb Soptelean/Cortez Journal

Montezuma County Firewise coordinator Rebecca Samulski gestures during a tour of East Canyon on Saturday to demonstrate the effect of fire mitigation.

To mitigate or not mitigate?

That might have been a question one could’ve asked prior to this summer’s Weber Fire, which started June 22 and burned until July 1.

But for residents who toured the East Canyon on Saturday, the question had likely already been answered.

Montezuma County’s Firewise Coordinator Rebecca Samulski facilitated the tour, which included 19 people. She received quite a bit of help from East Canyon homeowner Philip Walters. The East Canyon area is located near the top of Mancos Hill.

Walters, who serves as a Firewise ambassador for his neighborhood, narrated the tour.

Several stops were planned in the Elk Stream and Elk Spring subdivisions where attendees could see the effect of fire mitigation around homes.

Walters stressed that one shouldn’t just protect the home, but expand the mitigation area to protect trees around the home too.

Protecting one’s home by removing brush, trees and other incendiary material located close to the home is good. However, by removing brush from underneath trees farther out and doing some tree thinning, the remaining trees can likely be saved during a fire, Samulski said. Firefighters can start any necessary backburns outside of the extended mitigation area, she noted.

No homes were lost during the Weber Fire, but quite a bit of the vegetation was burned in both the East and West canyons, including piŮon juniper, gambel oak and ponderosa pine. The cost of the Weber Fire was estimated at more than $3.2 million.

For more information on the Firewise program or to become an ambassador, call Samulski at 564-4007 or go online at southwestcoloradofires.org/Firewise.

La Plata County residents can call La Plata County Coordinator Pam Wilson at 385-8909.

calebs@cortezjournal.com

The moon is pictured above a burned-over area in East Canyon, a remnant of this summerís Weber Fire. Enlargephoto

Caleb Soptelean/Cortez Journal

The moon is pictured above a burned-over area in East Canyon, a remnant of this summerís Weber Fire.

The home of Jeff Schaffer is pictured during a tour of East Canyon on Saturday. Note the burned area across the road, a remnant of this summerís Weber Canyon Fire. Enlargephoto

Caleb Soptelean/Cortez Journal

The home of Jeff Schaffer is pictured during a tour of East Canyon on Saturday. Note the burned area across the road, a remnant of this summerís Weber Canyon Fire.

Recent growth is seen below some burned trees in East Canyon. Enlargephoto

Caleb Soptelean/Cortez Journal

Recent growth is seen below some burned trees in East Canyon.

A group of La Plata and Montezuma county residents toured East Canyon on Saturday to see the effect of fire mitigation and non-mitigation on the area. Enlargephoto

Caleb Soptelean/Cortez Journal

A group of La Plata and Montezuma county residents toured East Canyon on Saturday to see the effect of fire mitigation and non-mitigation on the area.