On Thursday, Gov. Jared Polis signed a proclamation designating May as Wildfire Awareness Month, while state officials encouraged people to prevent wildfires to the best of their ability in order to avoid diverting emergency resources during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Approximately 3 million people live in Colorado’s wildland-urban interface compared to 2 million people just five years ago,” said Mike Morgan, director of the Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control. “We encourage landowners and communities to become aware of their level of risk and be a part of the solution.”
The Colorado State Forest Service advises homeowners in vulnerable areas to remove dry leaves and pine needles to at least 5 feet away from their homes, and to similarly remove flammable materials from roofs, gutters and porches. Residents should store firewood away from the home and uphill, and they should ensure that there is a clear home address sign visible from their street.
“These are activities you can do on your own while you’re stuck at home,” said Mike Lester, the state forester. “You’ll be giving a leg up to firefighters who may be called to protect your home.”
Colorado typically experiences 4,500 wildfires per year, several of which are large in scale, that result in damage to 168,000 acres.