As residents return home near the Spring Fire, dangers persist

Posted at 8:55 PM, Jul 11, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-11 22:55:06-04

Following a prolonged evacuation, more evacuees are returning home from the Spring Fire, but while the south part of the Spring Fire is contained, residents will have to deal with new threats to their safety.

On Thursday, residents of the Forbes Park subdivision in Costilla County will be allowed home, and will be on pre-evacuation status in case fire activity flares up. 

That means many residents will have to take precautions to stay safe through the re-entry process. 

  • Flash flooding in the burn scar is possible. The area is under a flash flood watch for Thursday, and it was under a flash flood warning on Wednesday. Be prepared to move to higher ground if rising waters approach
  • If your propane tank has been damaged and if you smell gas, leave the area immediately. You should call your propane provider to restart your propane system.
  • Look for embers in your gutters, crawlspaces or around your property
  • Wear protective masks, boots, long pants, long sleeves and gloves to lessen contact with ash and toxins kicked up from the fire. Masks can be picked up at the disaster assistance center in La Veta
  • Look out for ash pits. Ash pits are areas that have burned out from wildfires and can cause injuries and burns if you fall into them and are very dangerous. Look for grey or white ash on the ground, which can indicate an ash pit.
  • If your electrical box has been damaged, or if there are downed lines DO NOT touch them. The San Isabel Electric Association said Wednesday it had  restored power to main lines in areas not under mandatory evacuation orders. Call 719-695-9573 if in Huerfano County and 211 if you’re in Costilla County.
  • Inspect your sewage system for damage from power outages or flooding. Look for damage to pipes, electrical boxes and lids. If you spot damage, stop using it and contact the county public health agency
  • Check your water for earthy, smokey, or burnt smells. A flush of the water system or further repairs might be needed. Look for damage to the wells
  • Don’t drink the water, wash dishes take showers or bathe, cook with the water, brush your teeth, or make ice with the water unless you know it’s safe. Water testing kits for Costilla County residents are available at the Fort Garland/Blanca community center.
  • Throw out food in refrigerators. It could have gone bad due to power loss. Dumpsters are located at the Railroad Yard in La Veta and in Red Wing. Residents are asked to put food in watertight, rodent proof containers before throwing it away
  • People handling debris when returning to the fire area should get a tetanus shot. Free shots are available at the disaster assistance center at the La Veta High School from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. 
  • Residents should bring cleaning supplies like paper towels, dish soap, trash bags and potable water to clean rooms inside the home
  • If you find animal carcasses on your property can be disposed at a permitted landfill, off site incineration location or buried onsite. CLICK HERE for more information. 

There are numerous resources available for people affected by the Spring Fire. You can visit the Huerfano County Office of Emergency Management or the San Luis Valley Emergency page.