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How firefighters measure moisture to determine wildfire risk

Posted at 11:32 AM, Sep 24, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-24 14:23:07-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — Wildfire experts have been collecting samples from different areas in Colorado Springs and storing them in metal tins.
Those tins are weighed and then baked in an oven for 15 to 24 hours at 115 degrees Celsius.

The difference in their weight will be a tell-tale sign for experts and firefighters about how much moisture is in the environment, and therefore how high the wildfire risk may be.

Even though Colorado Springs has had a wet spring season this year, experts say it doesn't mean we're in the clear just yet,
In fact, a wet spring can bring added danger, and recent samples are pointing to an increased risk in grass-fires.

"We've had a great, lush spring with a lot of growth, a lot of moisture, which is great for us in the spring and summertime," explained Jeremy Taylor, Wildlife Mitigation Program Administrator with Colorado Springs Fire Department.

"[However], as we enter into the fall season, that creates problems for us, because now that everything that was now nice, and lush, and green now is going dormant [...] That means we're drying out for fires."

Colorado Springs Fire Department says homeowners can manage their vegetation by reducing dead, diseased, and weakened trees, pruning lower branches, and incorporating landscape designs to break up fuels.

The key lesson to remember is vegetation management and wildfire risk reduction go hand-in-hand.

CSFD recommends creating at least 15 feet of separation immediately around the home as well as thinning and removal of vegetation to a minimum of 30 feet.

For more tips, you can check out CSFD's website here.