Dangers to look out for after a wildfire

Posted at 8:15 PM, Jul 12, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-12 22:15:23-04

The flames on the south end of the Spring Fire may be out, allowing everyone to return home Thursday night, but dangers still exist in the area where 108,000 acres burned within the past two weeks.

Huerfano County Emergency Management is warning property owners to be on the lookout for burn damaged trees, ash pits, and damaged propane tanks in the fire zone. 

If you own property in the area and are returning, keep in mind that you will need to get a Re-Entry ID from emergency management, and keep it on you at all times. . If the address on your Green Re-Entry ID does not match the address you are going to in the area, you must have documentation showing residency at the address you will be entering.

Property owners will be allowed to return their livestock as early as Friday morning. 

First, before you head home be sure you have a tetanus shot within the last 10 years. If not, visit the Disaster Assistance Center at the La Veta Highschool Gym 10 am – 4 pm Friday to receive a Tetanus Shot prior to re-entry.

You’ll definitely want to avoid trees heavily damaged by the fires. Many are weakened due to the intense heat and will fall when the wind picks up – it could happen at any time.

When you see an ash pit, where the ground is typically white rather than black, be aware they may still be hot from underground vegetation like tree roots burning. The pits may smolder for several days even though everything above ground is no longer on fire.  Plus, they could be several inches or several feet deep, which poses a danger to people and livestock. 

Please keep in mind that damage to property needs to be reported to the Huerfano County Sheriff’s Office. Give them a call at 719-738-1044.

If you do not have power, contact contact San Isabel Electric 1-800-279-7432.  Any food kept inside a refrigerator or freezer during a power outage longer than 4 hours needs to be thrown out to avoid contracting any illnesses.

There are dumpsters available for food disposal at the Redwing Fire Department and the La Veta Railyard.

Also keep in mind that your water system may be impacted by the remnants of the fires and firefighting efforts. Boil your water until you can verify your water supplpy is safe.  Water testing will be provided free of charge. Contact Huerfano County for more information.

Phone service problems should be reported to CenturyLink at 800-850-5252.

If your propane gas system has been turned off by firefighters, do not turn the system back on until it has been inspected by your propane provider. Damage to these systems has the potential to create a fire or explosive hazard. 

If a propane storage tank or portable propane tank has been subject to direct flame impingement or shows signs of exposure to high temperatures, DO NOT approach or touch the tank.

• Do not drive your vehicle directly up to your home following a wildfire
• If you smell gas, leave the area immediately. Do not attempt to inspect the situation yourself
• Do not open any appliance valves, gas valves or propane tank service valves
• Contact your propane company to inform them of your return

For additional information please call 211 or 719-583-6611.