Check Out Our Advertisers!
     None  Accounting/Bookkeeping
     None  Attorney - Lawyer
     None  Auto
     None  Aviation
     None  Banks and Credit Unions
     None  Carpet Cleaning
     None  Chamber of Commerce
     None  Child Care
     None  Chiropractic Care
     None  Churches
     None  Computer Services
     None  Dental Care
     None  Dry Cleaning
     None  Electric utility
     None  Equine Services
     None  Errand Services
     None  Excavating
     None  Eye Care
     None  Feed Stores
     None  Field Mowing
     None  Financial Services
     None  Fireplace Sales/Service
     None  Fitness
     None  Flooring
     None  Hair/Nail Care and Cosmetics
     None  Handyman Services
     None  Health Care Facilities and Services
     None  Health Care
     None  Heating and Cooling
     None  Home Maintenance
     None  House Cleaning
     None  Insulation
     None  Insurance
     None  Internet Service
     None  Jewelry
     None  Mortgage
     None  Orthodontist
     None  Painting - Interior/Exterior
     None  Paving/Asphalt
     None  Pet Grooming
     None  Pet Sitter
     None  Plumbing
     None  Portable Buildings
     None  Propane Delivery
     None  Propane
     None  Property Management
     None  Racing - Cars
     None  Real Estate Services
     None  Restaurants
     None  Roofing
     None  Schools
     None  Septic Services
     None  Sheds, Outbuildings
     None  Shipping Services
     None  Specialty/Gifts
     None  Storage
     None  Tax Preparation
     None  Tires
     None  Tractor, Trailer and RV Sales
     None  Upholstery
     None  Veterinarian
     None  Window Replacement
     None  Windshield Repair
     None  Winery
     None  Woodworking

"The first day of spring is one thing, and the first spring day is another. The difference between them is sometimes as great as a month."
– Henry Van Dyke  
Contact Us | Advertise | Classified Ad | News Stands | Subscribe  

  Volume No. 16 Issue No. 3 March 2019  

None Black Forest News   None Book Review   None Business Briefs   None Community Calendar  
None Did You Know?   None FFPD Column   None From the Publisher   None Guest Column  
None Marks Meanderings   None Monkey Business   None News From D 49   None People on the Plains  
None Pet Care   None Phun Photos   None Prairie Life   None Rumors  
Front Page   |   Feature Stories   |   Search This Issue   |   Log In
  Black Forest Fire: five years later
  By Robin Widmar

   The devastating Black Forest Fire that ignited on June 11, 2013, killed two people, destroyed 489 homes and charred 14,280 acres of land. Evacuations covered 94,000 acres (147 square miles), 13,000 homes and affected 38,000 people, according to the Black Forest Fire After Action Report issued by the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office in May 2014.
   It was the second major wildfire in El Paso County in just two years and remains the most destructive fire in Colorado history in terms of the number of homes lost. Firefighters and residents of the Falcon Fire Protection District have their own recollections of the Black Forest fire since 14 of the homes lost were within FFPD’s jurisdiction.
   The Black Forest community continues to rebuild, but it will never be quite the same. Homes once surrounded by trees now have mountain views, having been rebuilt on lots cleared of burned timber. In other areas, blackened trees still stand five years later. Flood warnings are issued for the burn scar when heavy rains are expected because the scorched ground cannot absorb the moisture.
   And then there are the effects on people. Those who were here during the fire vividly recall the emotions they felt as they evacuated and watched their beloved forest burn along with neighbors’ homes. Residents still make comments to Falcon firefighters about the edginess they feel any time a plume of smoke appears in the forested areas. Recently, a structure fire in the northern part of the fire district ignited nearby grass and trees on a dry, breezy day. Neighbors and passersby jumped into action, bringing their own shovels and water buckets to keep the flames in check until firefighters arrived. Many of them said they did so because they look out for one another, but they were also trying to prevent another destructive fire.
   Here are some things that have happened in the Falcon Fire Protection District since the Black Forest Fire.
   Most of the 14 homes that burned within Falcon fire district boundaries have been rebuilt as determined by a visual survey and review of property records conducted by FFPD. Many rebuilds incorporated fire resistant materials, including Class A roofing and stucco siding, although such materials were not required under provisions of the 2009 International Fire Code adopted by El Paso County.
   FFPD Community Wildfire Protection Plan
   FFPD’s Community Wildfire Protection Plan was approved in 2016. The CWPP is intended to be a guide for improving mitigation and wildfire preparedness in the community. Additionally, some mitigation grants require applicants to have a CWPP to be eligible for those grants. The CWPP is available on the FFPD website (
   The CWPP emphasizes the importance of wildfire mitigation, both to minimize losses in future wildfires and to improve forest health. Keith Worley, a forester and wildfire mitigation specialist hired to develop the CWPP, stated in the document, “It takes a community that is resolved to work together to manage this risk. Responsibility begins with every property owner, supported by community wide mitigation efforts.”
   In 2014, two FFPD neighborhoods (Goshawk and Spirit Lakes) received their designations as Firewise USA® communities. The Firewise program teaches people how to adapt to living with wildfire, and encourages neighbors to work together on wildfire mitigation projects to prevent future losses. Some insurance companies offer discounts to homeowners in Firewise communities.
   To learn more about Firewise, check out the website at
   Mitigation efforts
   The Black Forest Fire ignited on a red flag warning day when temperatures were in the 90s, relative humidity was down to single digits and natural fuels were dry. Gusty winds helped create a fast-moving firestorm that even the best mitigation efforts could not stop. Even so, firefighters observed that mitigated properties fared better against ground fires and were easier to defend than those that lacked mitigation.
   In areas where trees and brush had been allowed to grow unchecked for years, the thick vegetation contributed to the ignition of spot fires and rapid fire spread. Conversely, open spaces such as the power line easement that runs roughly parallel to Meridian Road acted as firebreaks, slowing the fire’s progress in the absence of trees and brush to fuel it. Firefighting vehicles were able to safely access properties where owners trimmed overhanging tree branches from driveways.
   Firefighters could better protect homes that did not have vegetation growing close to the structure. Mitigated properties also served as safety zones if firefighters needed them.
   After the fire, owners of unburned properties (and their insurance companies) took a renewed interest in wildfire mitigation efforts. However, there is still much to be done. A drive through the forested areas of Falcon’s fire district shows that some property owners have not done any mitigation work. One lot will display obvious fuel reduction efforts while an adjacent lot remains overgrown. For mitigation to be effective, all residents need to participate in the effort.
   Falcon firefighters say one of the barriers to mitigation is a mistaken belief that properties must be cleared of all trees or vegetation. That is not the case, and they welcome the opportunity to teach residents about what constitutes effective mitigation. FFPD offers free property mitigation assessments for district residents that include recommendations (not mandates) for reducing natural fuels and wildfire risk. Call 719-495-4050 to schedule an appointment.
   A mitigation checklist and other resources are also available on the FFPD website; just click the Wildfire Mitigation button.
This photo was taken along Hodgen Road on the northeastern part of the burn scar. It shows the recovery (or lack thereof) in this area.
This photo and the photo below illustrate the difference between mitigated and unmitigated forest properties. This property has had fuels reduction/mitigation work done.
Right across the street is a lot that is at risk of spreading fire.
Facebook print this page      

  Pull to the right for sirens and lights
  By Robin Widmar

   Falcon firefighters have recently encountered a number of drivers who either freeze up when a fire truck approaches using lights and sirens, or they refuse to yield the right-of-way at all. These behaviors are dangerous for both drivers and first responders. Refusing to yield to an emergency vehicle using lights and sirens is also against the law under Colorado Revised Statute 42-4-705.
   For everyone’s safety and to avoid a ticket for failure to yield, remember this easy phrase: Pull to the right for sirens and lights.
   Here are some tips to stay safe:
  1. To avoid being surprised by an approaching emergency vehicle, avoid distractions while driving. Watch the road ahead, check rearview and side mirrors regularly, and keep radio or audio systems at a lower volume so the driver can hear sirens.
  2. Stay calm when faced with an approaching fire truck, ambulance or law enforcement vehicle running with emergency lights and sirens.
  3. Safely pull as far as possible to the right side of the road and come to a complete stop. Do not keep moving forward.
  4. Activate emergency flashers to alert other vehicles.
  5. Before pulling back into traffic, always check for additional emergency vehicles that may be following the first.

Stay connected with the FFPD
Facebook: Falcon Fire Department
Twitter: @FalconFireDept
Facebook print this page      

  © 2004-2019 The New Falcon Herald. All rights reserved. About | Contact | Advertise | News Stands | Privacy Policy