It’s an image that County Commissioner Terry Hart can’t get out of his mind when he thinks about the fire danger that exists on the high plains of Pueblo County. The spinning vortex of flames whipped up by howling winds that drove the Midway Carson fire and captured on video by News 5.
"That was the equivalent of a several stories tall building and that’s just on prairie grass," Hart said.
The Carson-Midway, Boone and 117 Fires this past March and April are constant reminders of how devastating wind-driven grass fires can be. Hart and his fellow commissioners Sal Pace and Garrison Ortiz want to mitigate that fire danger this summer by reducing the amount of available fuel.
"We had a very wet year last year, we had a whole lot of growth of weeds last year and we have a drought this year and so the things are just drying up like crazy," Hart explained. "So, we have a tinderbox all the way around the City."
The board passed on first reading a proposed ordinance that would require residential property owners living in unincorporated Pueblo County to remove any weeds and brush greater than 9 inches tall from their land.
Dale Dilulo lives next door to a vacant 10-acre field that is a constant source of tumbleweeds.
"They just filled the entire neighborhood full of 10 acres of tumbleweeds," Dilulo said.
Under the current language of the proposed ordinance, the weed removal requirement would apply to smaller lots of 2.5 acres or less. Dilulo thinks that zoning differences shouldn’t exempt his absentee neighbor from the same restrictions that would apply to him.
Commissioner Hart explained that this is just a first draft of the ordinance and they are encouraging the public to provide them with feedback.
"We’re going to take another look at that on the acreage requirement," Hart said. "We want to definitely focus on the safety factor."