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Palmer Lake neighborhood gets praise for wildfire mitigation

National Fire Protection Association visits area

Palmer Lake community gets national props for wildfire mitigation

PALMER LAKE, Colo. - A national fire prevention group has praised the Palmer Lake neighborhood of Red Rock Ranch for its success in persuading homeowners to mitigate, or create defensible space, around their homes for wildfire protection.

The National Fire Protection Association said 40% of the neighborhood's 200 homes have been properly mitigated as part of its Firewise program.

"What we're trying to do is contact every one of the residents and make sure (mitigation) is at least offered to them, and encourage them to have a home assessment and inspection, if you will," said Dave Betzler, chairman of the Firewise committee for Red Rock Ranch. "We want them to clear out five feet around the home, to 30 feet around the home."

Red Rock Ranch also is part of a two-year pilot program by the NFPA that will focus on homes having the greatest wildfire risk; the neighborhood is working on 23 homes in that category.

Firefighters regularly emphasize the need for property owners to remove excess vegetation and flammable materials close to homes and structures, to lessen the chance of adding fuel to a fire and worsening it, and to minimize fire damage.

Mitigation also gives fire crews more room to work and extinguish fires, or to protect structures during a fire.

"What Red Rock Ranch is doing is pretty uncommon," said Jamey Bumgarner, fire marshal for the Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District.  "Everybody's busy.  They have jobs.  The weekend is the time they're able to do their mitigation, and they want to do other things.  To get the neighborhoods involved and the communities involved, it just takes a lot of work.  But the work's worth the effort in the end."

On Saturday morning, volunteers will place accumulated mitigation debris into a chipper for disposal.  The event is from 8:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. at 18010 Granite Circle in Palmer Lake.


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