Wildfire Risk & Why We Need a Plan

Why Do We Need a Community Wildfire Protection Plan?

Communities must take the lead and set priorities for their own protection and develop strategies to improve public safety, community protection and natural resource management.

The wildland-urban interface is commonly described as the zone "where the eaves meet theBurnt homesite. leaves."  In other words, it's where structures and other human development meet and intermingle with undeveloped wildland.  It poses tremendous risks to life, property and infrastructures and is one of the most dangerous and complicated situations firefighters face.

A Brief History

Colorado's Front Range has changed dramatically over the past 150 years.  Younger, denser forests impacted by insect and disease epidemics make many Front Range communities ripe for catastrophic wildfires. The dense Douglas-fir and ponderosa pine forests found in the South Platte can easily sustain substantial crown fires.

Fire is no stranger to this area. The dense vegetation of Douglas-Fir and ponderosa pine forests found in the South Platte is generally close enough to sustain substantial crown fires. Two such fires, the Hayman Fire of 2002 and the Schoonover Fire, burned portions of the southern third of the South Platte area. The southern edge of the 1996 Buffalo Creek Fire serves as the northwest boundary of the planning area. Much of the forested areas within these perimeters were severely burned.

The Wildfire Risks in the South Platte Community

A community must identify and prioritize areas of public and private land where fuels reduction is needed  to reduce wildfire threats and to protect homes and property.

The Risk

Here in the South Platte Community, forest and urban conditions intermix, creating an extremely high wildfire risk.  The following factors are contributors to that high risk:

Forest and mountain view

  • Dense Ponderosa pine/Douglas-fir dominates the landscape
  • History of fire suppression and extreme forest fuel buildup
  • Periods of high winds and low humidity allowing for rapid rates of spread
  • River drainage focuses prevailing winds and funnels them through the communities involved
  • Slopes from 10 to over 50 percent
  • Human population increasing in the area
  • Some of the highest occurrence of lightening in the continental US
  • Lack of defensible space around many homesites with steep slopes between neighborhoods
  • High demand for recreational use