COLORADO SPRINGS — There are more than 100 neighborhoods in Colorado Springs situated in areas identified as a high risk for wildfire. If you live in one of these areas, odds are you know how expensive and physically demanding keeping your property fire safe can be. A News5 viewer reached out because she can’t do it and now she’s getting help.
”There’s a lot of brush and stuff down there that I can’t take care of. I can’t physically or financially do it,” said Diane, a homeowner living on the hill above Old Colorado City in Colorado Springs.
Diane and her dog Hope spend many days at home sharing the breathtaking view of their city from the back of her home, but just beyond the back porch dangers exist.
”Fire just moves so fast,” said Diane. ”I just don’t want to be caught in the house. I can’t walk. I can’t hardly move around. So if a fire came I’d have to just say well, that’s the way it is. I wouldn’t be able to run from it.”
After learning about her situation, News5 contacted Melissa Hoffman from the wildfire mitigation section of the Colorado Springs Fire Department. It didn’t take long for her to share Diane’s concerns.
”So, one of the biggest fire hazards that I see out here right now are these Juniper bushes on either side of me. They burn extremely hot extremely fast,” said Hoffman. “When they are within 15 feet of the home like these are, then we would like to see them removed.”
She then discovered even more common problems.
”Looking back here down on the ground there is a lot of downed material that has now dried up and died,” said Hoffman. ”Should an ember or some type of fire start back here it could travel very quickly up slope with the dead grasses and downed material and into these Junipers and cause a much larger fire.”
After getting a good look at the property, Hoffman showed Diane the fire department’s stipend program that can help her connect with trusted contractors while offering a dollar-for-dollar match for up to $500 to get the fire prevention work done in the 30 feet surrounding her home.
”I didn’t know there was such a thing available. I had no idea,” said Diane.
Hoffman says many people in Colorado Springs have similar challenges and this program is something they should take advantage of.
”That’s certainly something to reach out to our office about to see if you are eligible and then sign up for that wait list so that we can get that work done for you in 2023.”
While the fire dangers still needs to be addressed, Diane says knowing there’s a path to improving the situation at her home is easing her anxiety. She hopes others who need help will take the time to ask.
”If they are in danger like I feel like I am I hope they contact the fire department so they can get help,” said Diane.
If you live in an area like this that requires fire mitigation, you may qualify for that financial assistance offered by the fire department.
Residents are welcome to check out the CSFD website and submit inquires. https://www.coswildfireready.org/contact-us [coswildfireready.org]
Colorado Springs is one of the nation's fastest-growing cities. With that, every year researchers are finding new people are living in areas at risk for wildfires.
Last year, News5 took a look at the work going on to try to educate new residents who have moved into these areas.
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