This summer’s fire season has been the worst on record in Colorado, with the most destructive fire on record (in terms of property lost) in Colorado Springs, following on the heels of the previous record-setter this year in the Fort Collins area.
We have had our share of concerns here in Pagosa Country. The Little Sand Fire continues to burn and, given a continued dry, hot summer, will probably burn for quite some time. But that fire, a big one indeed, is not threatening population centers. There have been numerous small fires, most caused by lightning, but prompt and effective responses have thus far dampened the blazes before they’ve grown to become a danger.
We are fortunate so far that these problems are the worst of it here in Pagosa Country.
Still, our concerns should lead us to take whatever small steps we can to ensure that fire does not destroy our properties and derail our lives the way it has in other parts of the state. Fire mitigation efforts on private properties are steps many of us can take — reducing understory, limbing trees to reduce the danger caused by low-hanging branches. There are a number of outstanding local businesses whose job it is to reduce fire danger, and they should be used whenever possible.
We should also pay strict attention to the restrictions in the current fire ban. It is far too easy to ignite a blaze with careless behavior. Remember, campfires, charcoal grills, burn barrels and any open fires are prohibited on all private and county lands and inside the Town of Pagosa Springs. Restrictions on public lands include a ban on the use of fire in the lower zone of the forest, with other restrictions pertaining to the higher zone.
Finally, even though the Fourth of July has passed, the temptation is there in some quarters to ignite fireworks. It is a foolish thing to do and, if caught, violators will be cited. The short-lived thrill of the explosion and shower of colorful sparks is not worth the risk and the damage that could come of it.
When an announcement was made Monday by Sheriff Peter Gonzalez that he had decided to cancel the town fireworks display (with full support of town officials) many people were disappointed, but most breathed a sigh of relief. Not this year, not with what could happen.
In the wake of the announcement, a wave of responses rolled in to The SUN website.
The consensus regarding the cancellation: the right choice, the prudent thing to do.
A positive take on what could and should happen? You bet.
Here is the gist of the conversation: Wait until the fire danger has passed; keep the fireworks at the ready.
Once the monsoon rains arrive (and we all look to the skies daily, hoping the pattern is developing), let’s have a party in Pagosa Country. Let’s throw a party to celebrate the fact the situation has eased, that our fears of a major fire have dissipated, that the dry season has loosed its grip
Let’s throw a party to thank the men and women who have battled the fires this season; their work is tough and their opponent is dangerous, to them and to us.
Let’s get together as a community at the athletic fields at the high school, have a feast, listen to great music, dance and watch the fireworks light the night sky as they were intended to do on the Fourth of July.
Why not? What good are fireworks if they sit in storage?
And what good is it to emerge from a difficult time without a chance to get together and have a good time?