GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) - Nationwide, fires cost almost $8.6 billion in property damage each year and with burn season upon us, officials want to make sure you’re prepared.
One of the major culprits of out of control fires is the weather.
High winds and extremely low humidity can turn a small spark into a raging wildfire that can destroy property and take lives.
Palisade Fire Chief Richard Rupp says, “A lot of it I think is carelessness on the part of the person doing the burning.”
And there was a lot of carelessness around the Grand Valley last year.
Grand Junction Fire Department spokesman Mike Page says, “In 2009 we had 303 wildfires, which is a lot.”
Not only is it a lot of fires, it is a lot of money. “We were close to $3 million in losses last year,” Page say.
But there are some simple steps that homeowners can take to defend their homes and property.
“You need to have a defensible space around your structures and your roof,” Rupp says.
Officials suggest creating a 30 foot safety zone or fire break around your home. You can do this by raking leaves, removing dead limbs and twigs and clearing all flammable vegetation from your property. You should also cut all branches that extend over your roof and remove debris from your roof. “And take care of cleaning your gutters, if you have dried up leaves, all it takes is a spark,” Rupp says.
Another big fire hazard of the spring are outdoor barbeques and grills.
Officials suggest grilling at least 10 feet from your home on a concrete pad or bare ground and never leave a grill unattended.
“Wind can pick up spark and start a weed or brush fire” Rupp says.
Officials say never dump ashes in a trash can or dumpster until you’re sure they’re cold.
Officials also suggest having an escape route planned that you practice twice a year along with a list of things you have to get out of your house in case you have an emergency. Rupp says only grab stuff if you have time, but if you go out, don’t go back in because a fire will double in size every 30 seconds.