Craig briefs: BLM advises residents to learn before you burn | CraigDailyPress.com

Craig briefs: BLM advises residents to learn before you burn

It doesn't take long for fire danger to increase once snow begins to melt, according to a press release from the Bureau of Land Management. Combine that with warm, windy conditions and brush and grass dry out quickly. A wind-whipped fire in quick-burning, dormant vegetation can cause a burn to easily become uncontrollable.

Federal and state land management agencies obtain weather forecasts from the National Weather Service before igniting any controlled burn and so should residents. Your local National Weather Service office can be contacted 24 hours a day at 970-243-7007 or visit weather.govgjt for fire weather forecasts.

Fire has been used as a land management tool for generations. It's used to clear land of debris and excess plant material, promote grass regeneration and replenish nutrients to the soil. While spring offers optimal burn conditions, dead vegetation can carry fire through green plants and pose control issues especially on windy days. Observing the following tips will provide a safer environment for debris and agricultural burning.

■ Contact your local county sheriff's office before burning and obtain required burn permits if required.

■ Call the National Weather Service at 970-243-7007 and get the predicted weather conditions for your burn day.

■ Don't burn on windy days.

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■ Notify your neighbors of your plans to burn as a matter of safety and courtesy.

■ Ready water and equipment — have a reliable water source and have shovels, rakes and equipment on hand.

■ Establish fire breaks — create fire lines by digging to bare dirt and removing flammable material.

■ Try to burn into the wind as this will slow the rate of spread and makes the fire easier to manage.

■ Stay with the fire at all times — never leave a fire unattended.

■ Have plenty of help — more people more control.

■ Ensure the fire is out cold before leaving the area, smoldering embers have ignited unattended fires.

■ Call 911 if fire burns out of control — the longer you wait the bigger the fire becomes before help arrives.

■ Remember: Your fire is your responsibility.

Should an agricultural or debris fire damage other private, state or federally managed lands, you could receive a fine or be held responsible for the cost of the damage and impacts.

Time to prepare houses for wildfire mitigation

With Colorado's snowpack at only 65 percent of average and Red Flag Warnings again in effect throughout much of the state, the Colorado State Forest Service reminds landowners that there's no better time than now to prepare homes and communities for wildfire, according to a press release.

"Sometimes the best defense is a good offense," Mike Lester, state forester and director of the Colorado State Forest Service, said in a statement. "Long before a fire arrives, landowners should be taking pre-emptive actions to reduce wildfire potential."

The CSFS offers free guides for protecting property from wildfire, including those that cover FireWise building construction and tips for protecting homes by maintaining wildfire-defensible zones. The agency also offers site visits with homeowners to discuss concerns, and works with communities to address mitigation and wildfire threats on a larger scale through the development of Community Wildfire Protection Plans.

"Homeowners and communities bear the ultimate responsibility to help protect themselves and their property from the threat of wildfire," Courtney Peterson, Colorado's wildfire mitigation education coordinator, said in a statement. "Taking simple steps now can help make homes more defensible and help protect residents and firefighters."

Peterson said some of the critical concerns to reduce the risks presented by early season, wind-driven wildfires include cutting and removing dead grasses and weeds; raking up thick beds of pine needles; and keeping gutters, decks and roofs free of pine needles and other combustibles.

State publications, guidelines and other information on wildfire mitigation and developing CWPPs are available at CSFS district offices or online at csfs.colostate.edu/wildfire-mitigation.

Hepatitis A vaccination recommended for travel

The Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association recommends people planning travel to Mexico, the Caribbean and Central America receive a Hepatitis A vaccination.

Hepatitis A can be spread by eating or drinking food or water contaminated with the virus. Hepatitis A and other routine vaccinations are available during drop in immunization clinics, 2 to 4 p.m. Thursdays at the VNA in Craig, 745 Russell St. Other vaccinations may be recommended depending on the international destination. For more information, call 970-824-8233.

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