Photo by Matt Stensland
Greg Griswould started his new job last week as Oak Creek Fire Protection District’s mitigation crew supervisor. The new position is being paid for with grant money.
For more information or to sign up for the free fire mitigation in Stagecoach, call 970-736-8104 or visit www.oakcreekfire.org.
Steamboat Springs The tinder surrounding Stagecoach is alarming to Greg Griswould.
Starting as the fire mitigation crew supervisor with the Oak Creek Fire Protection District, one of his first tasks was to survey the beetle-killed pine that surrounds the Stagecoach area. From there, Griswould and a fire mitigation team will offer free services to Stagecoach residents with the goal of creating “defensible space” around each home.
That’s important, he said, because if a fire catches in the canopy of the forest, the results could be dire.
“The canopy is so tight, and if fire ever goes into the canopy of these trees, it would be a catastrophic fire,” Griswould said.
The project, funded by $124,000 in grants and $5,000 from the Oak Creek Fire Protection District, will start lining up projects in May and will start removing the fire fuel — grass, bushes and trees — in June.
Griswould said he would work with the Stagecoach Homeowners Association and, if not enough people sign up after reading about the project in the HOA newsletter, he would go door-to-door to ask residents whether they would like the free help. The crews primarily will focus first on the areas directly around the homes. That means clearing out trees that could be leaning against eaves, clearing out brush near propane tanks and advising residents about other potential hazards.
If residents have open eaves or shake roofs, Chuck Wisecup, chief of the Oak Creek Fire Protection District, said the education would include how to best protect the houses, including how to close up any vulnerabilities on the houses.
At the same time, not all homeowners will want all of their services, Griswould said. He and Wisecup acknowledged that some homeowners are reluctant to have trees near their homes cut down, even if it is a fire hazard. Because of that, the crews will work with each property owner before the work is done.
The teams could potentially work on more than 300 properties, Wisecup said, giving them enough work to renew the grant for several years.
After the crews finish with homes where the property owners have requested help, the crews will go on to tree-lined roads to provide enough space to create a fire-stop. They also will work with absentee property owners, or owners of undeveloped property, to ensure that those areas do not become fire hazards.
For more information or to request the fire mitigation services, call 970-736-8104 or visit www.oakcreekfire.org.