The rest of the story on how to protect against wildfires starting from improperly stored ashes
When I wrote my article “Unprotected Ash Strikes Again”, I had incorrect information. When I learned of my error, I went to the landowner where fire started and apologized to the family.
Here is the “Rest of the Story” with correct information.
The family had been very concerned about the dry conditions and the stove ash had been stored in house in open metal bucket for a week.
Then the ash was disposed in a hole dug in the ground. The ash felt cool to touch when the owner put his hand in it. He then covered over the hole with soil.
Apparently, one or more of the three large dogs that are family pets dug up the covered over ash hole.
Then the pesky wind did the rest, blowing out layer after layer of ash until a hot coal was found and deposited in the family large firewood pile. Then the firewood ignited.
Fortunately, a neighbor had to get out of bed to use the bathroom and saw the fire down the hill across the small valley. He called 911 and jumped in his vehicle to race down to the family property. Neighbor had to awaken the family. Bedroom was in corner of house closest to the now blazing hot woodpile. Terrified, the family members frantically tried cooling down the end of the wood siding house with garden hose. The radiant heat was intense. Family members were dismayed on how fast the fire was spreading to grass and trees and moving uphill to the north and east. It was an agonizing eternity it seemed for the family hoping that the fire department would get there before it was too late. The Calvary did come and immediately foamed down the house and wood shake roof. Other units slowed the spreading wildfire and contained it. But the family ordeal was not yet over. They had trouble sleeping next few days and then five days later when they returned home after dark, they saw red coals glowing under a large pinion tree at edge of original fire area. The fire was about to restart. The heat had held over in the deep duff about foot deep at base of tree. (Duff is the organic layers of decomposing pine needles). The husband and wife team carried water and on hands and knees dug through the duff putting out the last of the hot coals.
Thus, my article about “thoughtlessly spreading out ash” was incorrect. I apologized for that error. Apology was accepted. The family plans on donating for two stove ash cans. Ash will be held with lid on for two weeks or longer and then dosed with water when out in hole in ground. Also, they plan on purchasing a Thermal-gel homeowner kit for protection of shake shingle wood roof until they can financially afford a new metal roof.
One of the lessons learned here, is that when in these drought like conditions, actions that has seemed safe before, may not be.
All of us need to be vigilant about mowing dead and dry grass and weeds during red flag days. Or operating machinery in or near these dry fuels. That would include ATV’s, dirt bikes, chainsaws and other machinery.
If need to mow, do it early in morning when temperatures are cooler and relative humidity is higher. Then wait an hour before leaving area to make sure no fires could have been sparked by machinery.
Do not park vehicles in tall grass as catalectic converters can start fires.
If cutting firewood do it in mornings and have water and hand tools with you to fight any possible fire starts. All of us need to be super careful during these dry conditions.
It is going to be difficult on our volunteer firefighters until we get ample moisture. So, if you see a firefighter, give them a hug, they are going to need it.
La Veta, CO
Vote YES for Francisco Fort Museum
In the April 3 election, the Francisco Fort Museum is asking La Vetans to vote for funding – NOT an increase, NOT a new tax, simply the extension of the existing funding which will otherwise sunset in 2020. For the last few years, the museum has been funded with 1% of the sales tax collected in La Veta. We have all seen the improvements: more staff were hired; maintenance and preservation of the historic adobe building was addressed; the museum season was extended; additional summer programs were offered; school groups were encouraged. The museum became a source of pride for the entire community. If the museum is to continue this remarkable progress, funding must be secured. A “yes” vote for Ballot Issues 2A and 2B will do this.
Protect La veta’s Treasure
La Veta has a treasure — Francisco Fort — an original adobe fort in its original position. On April 3rd we are asked to voted to extend the two 1/2% sales taxes the support our museum. This is not a tax increase. A yes vote just extends these taxes for 10 years, providing support for the museum. There is no more money out of your pocket. The Francisco Fort Museum is an important part of our community, a real gem. How many communities have an original historic fort on its original footprint? We are so fortunate, but we must support and maintain the structure. On April 3rd vote to extend these taxes that are currently being collected.
La Veta, CO
Walsenburg The Best of Times ahead
After moving from Walsenburg to La Veta, I swore I would never move back! However, my feelings may have changed and Walsenburg has “the best of times” ahead.
A few years ago, I stopped at the old empty blue filling station across from the swimming pool. Inside I saw a sleeping bag & backpack. Also, there was trash and garbage piled four feet high, as though the neighborhood was using the site as a dump. I reported this to the police department, but apparently there was nothing they could do. Have you noticed that the entire property has been completely cleaned up, as well as several other places?
Like I said before, Walsenburg is in MUCH better shape, thanks to your new city administrator, James Toth! He will meet with you, listen to you and talk about solving problems. How fortunate this town now is! PS – Let us all help him, too!
La Veta, CO
Aguilar Community Church Services
The United Presbyterian Church of Trinidad has purchased the Aguilar Community Church building and will start having services there Sundays at 10:30 am.
~Pastor Bill Ferris
Farewell from Joan Hatcher
Dear Huerfano County,
I will be leaving my position at The Walsenburg Workforce Center on March 23, 2018 and will be retiring from the State of Colorado. I have accepted a position in Pueblo with the Resource Exchange working with individual with disabilities.
In 2010 I came to Walsenburg from the Pikes Peak Workforce Center in Colorado Springs not knowing what to expect. My job was to open the Walsenburg Workforce Center full time, which is what I did. I was a bit apprehensive because I had not worked in a rural office for several years.
From day one I was welcomed with open arms by the people of the community; I have been shown kindness, support, and gratitude. I was able to develop lasting relationships with businesses and agencies within the community. I have found Huerfano County to be a beautiful place that has taught and shared so much with me.
I just want to take this time to say Thank You to all of you for the opportunity that I have been given to work with the people and community for the last 8 years. It has been a wonderful life changing experience to be part of.
I will forever wish the people and the community well.
Please come and celebrate with me on March 23, 2018 from 1-4 pm at the Community Center.