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Governor, Fire Officials Urge Vigilance Before Colorado Fire Season

Nathan Heffel

With rain pouring outside the Centennial Airport Thursday, Governor John Hickenlooper urged Coloradans to remain cautious about wildfires, despite recent moisture.

The Governor was briefed on the upcoming wildfire season by officials from the Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control. Taking questions from the media afterward, the governor agreed the risk for wildfires has lessened since last year. He urged residents living in the wildland-urbaninterfaceto take action now, before the 2013 fire season truly beings to threaten their property.

“Just in the last six months, and I’ve been visiting somebody or in a meeting in somebody’s home and there are trees right up against their house,” Hickenlooper said. “And they say these are the exceptions. Well, that’s all well and good, but to a certain extent they’re expecting the rest of us to pay for the scenic quality that they don’t want to take these trees down.” 

Credit Nathan Heffel / KUNC
Paul Cooke, Director of the Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control.

The governor says changes to procedures this year will help local, state and federal firefighters collaborate easier during wildfires.  Paul Cooke, director of the division, says he will strategically place state resources in local communities in hopes for lower response times.  “We’re going to work on it this year for fire season and see how it works,” said Cooke. “And you know like last year we had a fire season that didn’t end, so we hope that we don’t see that again.”

The U.S. Forest Service has committed $11.5 million dollars throughout the Rocky Mountain region for fuel reduction and fire mitigation projects this year. Cooke says there are over 1,100 firefighters from local state and federal agencies available across Colorado to fight future fires anywhere across the state.

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