A Case Study of the Camp Fire – Fire Progression Timeline

After siege of blazes, experts say California must improve wildfire evacuation plans.

This publication is downloadable and available free of charge from:
https://doi.org/10.6028/NIST.TN.2135

The Camp Fire. November 8, 2018, Butte County, California. The foothills of the Sierra Nevada, so much like our own inter-mountain Jefferson County, Colorado. Over 18,000 destroyed structures, 700 damaged structures, 85 fatalities. The numbers only tell part of the story.

map of California, Butte CountyFollowing the fire event, this in-depth case study was completed in an effort to better understand Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI) fire behaviour; how it spreads, why it behaves like it does, how to be better prepared to evacuate populations, and how to structure response to a WUI fire event.

This report also includes a tool to assess a community’s local wildfire hazard and readiness for wildfire. It covers questions such as :
    • Do you have an evacuation plan?
    • What is the capacity of evacuation routes and are they lined with overgrown vegetation?
    • Are there safe assembly areas if evacuation isn’t possible?
    • What percent of the communities enrolled in opt-in warning systems?
    • Do you have a way to relay warnings if there is a loss of power, phone or internet?
It’s a long read, it even takes a long time to download, but it does provide some really good guidelines for planners and leaders, as well as residents.
Download this publication at https://doi.org/10.6028/NIST.TN.2135

What Would You Take If You Had 5 Minutes…

Your phone just rang, it’s a Reverse-911. You need to evacuate, there’s a wildfire threatening your neighborhood and you need to leave NOW. What would you grab in the minutes left before you get in your vehicle and leave your home behind?

The Washington Post, in their Climate & Environment section, ran a gripping story about some folks who fled the Dixie Fire, which destroyed Greenville, California, this past August. Read the full story here.

WaPo typically allows non-subscribers to view up to 3 articles a month. If you can’t read the article right now, here’s a sampling of some of the residents of Greenville were able to save. I encourage you to go back next month and read the full story.

Along with the ashes of her two deceased dogs and several trinkets , Stephanie made sure to grab the book she was reading.
Along with the ashes of her two deceased dogs and several trinkets , Stephanie made sure to grab the book she was reading.
This teen grabbed her Divergent book series and her Pokémon cards, her photo album, which, she says, helps her to remember the good times.
This teen grabbed her Divergent book series and her Pokémon cards, and her photo album, which, she says, helps her to remember the good times.
Joshua saved his great-grandmother's sewing table, which meant a lot to his mom, and a large water bottle.
Joshua saved his great-grandmother’s sewing table, which meant a lot to his mom, and a large water bottle.
Teresa escaped the flames with her dog and the rosary which she always wears around her neck.
Teresa escaped the flames with her dog and the rosary which she always wears around her neck.
Karen was able to grab this quilt, which still keeps her warm.
Karen was able to grab this quilt, which still keeps her warm.
This teen says he mostly wanted to help his family pack, but he remembered to grab his favorite pair of shoes.
This teen says he mostly wanted to help his family pack, but he remembered to grab his favorite pair of shoes.
Jeff grabbed this hat he received as a volunteer for the Forest Fire Lookout Association.
Jeff grabbed this hat he received as a volunteer for the Forest Fire Lookout Association.

Mary rescued the Maidu baby basket in which she and her children rested as infants.
Mary rescued the Maidu baby basket in which she and her children rested as infants.

The Colorado Wildfire Risk Public Viewer

A normal human trait is to avoid looking for trouble before it happens. Unfortunately, engaging in this type of behaviour can lead to unfortunate and even deadly circumstances, especially where wildfire is concerned.

Hence we at C.A.R.E. are presenting the Colorado Wildfire Risk Public Viewer.  https://co-pub.coloradoforestatlas.org/#/

This viewer is a joint venture between the Colorado Forest Service and Colorado State University. It’s designed to increase wildfire awareness, provide a comprehensive view of local wildfire risk and local fire history, and educate about wildfire prevention and mitigation.

Sometimes this is all it takes — seeing your home in relation to real wildfire risk and to encourage you to get busy with the mitigation chores that you’ve been putting off all summer long.

Remember, this viewer contains no guarantees and makes no warranties. Use it to remind  yourself that, as much as we love the land, we have to be aware of the possible risks of living within the woodland-urban interface.

 

What Does a Well-Mitigated Forest Look Like?

In 1944, the longest-running public service campaign in US history took off with the now-familiar message, “Only YOU Can Prevent Forest Fires”.

Now we have come to realize that this well-meaning approach has had devastating consequences. Our western forests, which evolved with fire as a controlling mechanism to prevent overgrowth, have become grossly overgrown. We’re looking at hundreds of wildfires all over the country, millions of acres and hundreds (if not thousands) of homes charred each year, smoke blanketing the country from coast-to-coast. Wildfire seasons are longer, wildfires burn hotter, hot enough to create their own weather patterns.

Most who are reading this post have moved up into the Front Range since fire suppression was the ruling of the day, so we’re used to seeing forest that resembles something like this:

And in recent years we’ve been serenaded with instructions on how to mitigate the forest on our land, and why we should do so. Few residents have ever seen what these forests used to look like before Smokey Bear came on the scene.

This is what the Ponderosa forests used to look like…mature trees widely spaced. Undergrowth removed by small, fast-moving, lower-temperature fires that occurred every few decades. Open lines of sight through which forest dwellers – deer, elk, bear – could move with safety.

This is Genesee Mountain. In recent years, Denver Mountain Parks conducted forest mitigation on this land. The slash that is an inevitable part of mitigation was chipped and spread out over the land, helping to restrain the growth of excess brush in the understory. This is what properly mitigated forest should look like.

Now that you’ve got the picture, read more about how to mitigate for wildfire in our Fire Season section. This year (2021) Jeffco is offering slash collection every weekend through the end of October, so maybe now is a good time to start that mitigation project, or just a general clean-up around the house? And as always, neighbors and friends, stay safe, stay well.

Last update: 8/25/2021

 

Time sensitive – Request for help with promoting resident and partner participation in County surveys

Dear Partners in and Supporters of Health and Housing Needs in Jefferson County:

We are seeking your assistance with getting word out to as many Jeffco residents as possible about two very important surveys to guide prevention and COVID recovery work in our communities.

Input is being sought from Jefferson County residents through two on-line surveys that will support funding and programming decisions to address a wide variety of needs in our communities.  Participation in these surveys is open through July 28th, 2021.

Please share this information out via emails, newsletters, social media, etc., to anyone living in Jefferson County:

Community Needs Survey – will help the county prioritize use of funds from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 to address recovery from the pandemic, specifically for community members who’ve been hit the hardest. The survey is available in English and Spanish at this site:   www.jeffcocovidsurvey.com

Community Health and Wellbeing Survey – focuses on public health prevention services and policies that will help reduce the burden of substance use/abuse, food insecurity, community connectedness and other priority public health concerns that may have been impacted by COVID-19. The results from this survey will help shape Jefferson County Public Health’s future programming and community health policy efforts:

Community Health/Wellbeing Survey in English 

Community Health/Wellbeing Survey in Spanish

In addition to the language, above, which you can copy and use in an email to your networks, and to support your sharing efforts, we have created a suite of materials for social media posts which are attached to this email (sample messages for posting, as well as images).  We also have posters available in Spanish and English with QR codes linking to the two surveys that you may print and post in your agency waiting areas.

Finally, you’ll find a news release linked here which you can share with your networks as well.

Results from the surveys are expected late summer, 2021. If you your org/group is interested in accessing these survey results or has questions, please contact Donna Viverette at dviveret@jeffco.us.

Thank you for your support of community health, wellbeing and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic in Jefferson County!

Tracy R. Volkman, BS, REHS

Senior Environmental Health Specialist

Jefferson County Public Health

645 Parfet St., Lakewood, CO 80215

o 303-271-5763, tvolkman@jeffco.us( I am out of the office on Fridays. My working hours are Monday-Thursday 6:00 AM-4:30 PM.  Thank you.)

Find us on the web: http://jeffco.us/public-health/

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Survey Co-Promotion Posters_7.7.2021 – English

Survey Co-Promotion Posters_7.13.2021 – Spanish