A wildfire in Boulder, Colorado, has charred 134 acres near the city and prompted widespread evacuations according to The Denver Post.
The fire started on the north side of Boulder Canyon. More than 1,500 homes have received evacuation notices and major companies had to take immediate steps to protect their businesses. Two hospitals were also evacuated.
This is the second time in two months a wildfire has struck Boulder according to CNN’s report of Colorado’s September wildfire.
Living in Branson, Missouri, we don’t often think about wildfires but the danger associated with wildfires is very real, even in the most unlikely places. Branson is surrounded by hills and hills of deciduous forest. Add to that much of the forest contains dead tree limbs and brush. This is the result of a recent series of ice storms endured over the past several winters.
Southwest Missouri’s Wildfire Danger
Missouri is constantly and keenly aware of dangerous weather every day. Tornado warnings and severe thunderstorms are a very real threat but most people rarely consider the potential danger and destruction connected to a series of wildfires in Branson.
Burning trash or igniting a burn pile should be executed with extreme caution as everyone knows all too well how quickly a fire can get out of hand. The Missouri Department of Conservation is a key entity in helping Missourians prepare in the event a wildfire should break out. In Southwest Missouri, it may not be a matter of if, but when.
In 2009 there were nearly 3,800 documented wildfires in Missouri. These fires scorched nearly 42,500 acres across the state. The most sobering statistic is that nearly half of the fires, 1,800 in total, were started from debris and burned over a third of the acreage surrounding the original site. In other words these fires were started accidentally and involved human error rather than unforeseen acts of nature.
A massive ice storm devastated southwest Missouri in 2007 and felled tree limbs over several counties. An exploding population and lots of home construction are putting more and more residents in harm’s way should a wildfire become a reality. All it takes is one drought or dry seasonal conditions, an errant bolt of lightning and tinder could be lit for a state-sized bonfire.
Missouri’s fire danger season is spring and fall when it is driest. In addition to red flag warnings from the National Weather Service, the Missouri Department of Conservation has its own gauge of fire danger levels. Localities can also issue alerts and releases regarding fires or burn warnings.
An informational pamphlet online offers Missourians instructions as to how to protect their property from the ravages of wildfires. The state of Missouri recommends keeping trees as far apart as possible to prevent the spread of fire. Cleaning up any yard debris is also key in protecting one’s home and property.
In addition to these guidelines, it is recommended families have an evacuation plan and strategy should leaving the family home become necessary. The closest major metropolitan city is Springfield, approximately 40 miles to the north. U.S. Highway 65 is the major thoroughfare and the ideal evacuation route as a four-lane divided highway.
At the first sign of major trouble, it is recommended to opt for evacuation rather than waiting things out. Pet carriers should be ready as well as emergency supplies. Most Missourians brace for tornado season as well as ice storm-laden winters, therefore storm shelters are fairly well-stocked as a general rule. It is important for medicines and other necessities to be departure-ready at a moment’s notice.
Duffle bags or storage containers can be packed with a week’s worth of clothes and stored in the back of a vehicle months in advance. Lastly, be sure to activate any home security system before evacuating.
Most Missouri families don’t think of fire danger on a daily basis but when the weather becomes especially dry, it’s important to be prepared for any eventuality, especially the devastating potential of a Colorado-caliber wildfire.
Pankratz, Howard and Kieran Nicholson, “Fire chars 134 acres west of Boulder; neighborhoods are evacuated”, DenverPost.com.
CNN Wire Staff, “Colorado officials: Wildfire torches 140 structures, 4 people missing”, CNN.com.
State of Missouri, “Missouri Fire Statistics”, mdc.mo.gov.
State of Missouri, “Wildfire in Missouri”, mdc.mo.gov.
State of Missouri, “Fire Danger Levels”, mdc.mo.gov.
State of Missouri, “Living with Wildfire”, mdc.mo.gov.