Volunteers Begin Mitigation Work Ahead of Wildfire Season

As drought conditions intensify, fire fighters and volunteer groups are chipping away at Colorado’s wildfire risk.

Video Transcript

KATHY WALSH: Denver was just one degree shy of breaking a heat record today. And with windy and dry conditions, fire danger was high across the state. As drought conditions intensify, firefighters and volunteer groups are chipping away at Colorado's wildfire risks. Conor McCue joins us live from Boulder County tonight. And Conor, you were out with a group today working in and around the CalWood fire burn scar.

CONOR MCCUE: Yeah, Cathy, fire officials are predicting another spring with higher than normal chances for large wildfires, which here in the Lefthand Canyon and in many other parts of Boulder County, it's the last thing that homeowners really want to hear, especially after what they experienced last summer and fall. So today, that group of people, with a local nonprofit, went into the canyon and began the work of getting ahead of what could come.

As the Lefthand Canyon fire grew, and CalWood fire enveloped homes last October, Craig and Mary Brown of Jamestown spent days on standby.

CRAIG BROWN: Our cars were all loaded up and we were pointing downhill. And we were ready to go at a moment's notice.

CONOR MCCUE: While that never happened, scars from past fires are a reminder of what could have been.

MARY BROWN: It was pretty scary.

CONOR MCCUE: And Saturday the work began to prepare for more.

REX LECEBY: I would guess that this fire season is going to be worse and last fire season. And the work that we do in the mitigation work, it's mitigating the damage to certain areas when a fire will happen.

CONOR MCCUE: Rex Leceby fought the CalWood fire, but today is working with Team Rubicon, a veteran volunteer group that responds to disasters. It's the second of nine days they'll clear trees and remove fuels near homes in the Boulder Canyon.

REX LECEBY: We're not going to stop the fire, but we might be able to save a home.

CONOR MCCUE: Volunteers also remove charred trees near burned homes.

REX LECEBY: Trying to take those out, and let the crews come in, and start rebuilding for these families.

CONOR MCCUE: With another tough fire season ahead, the Browns are now more prepared.

CRAIG BROWN: We're about 10 notches safer since Team Rubicon has been up here.

CONOR MCCUE: Safer, but not immune to the changing reality in places like this.

MARY BROWN: They tell us it's inevitable, fire will come. And so we'll be more prepared.

CONOR MCCUE: Now for this project, Team Rubicon is working with some of the local fire chiefs up in the canyon as well as some other local leaders. The volunteers will be back out tomorrow as well as two more weekends each three days, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, in the near future. Live in Boulder County, Conor McCue, covering Colorado First.

KATHY WALSH: Thank you, Conor. The National Weather Service says some wildfire areas are at higher risk for flash flooding tomorrow. There is an elevated threat for flash flooding in the Cameron Peak, CalWood, and East Troublesome burn areas. Now those areas lost a lot of vegetation that would help prevent water from rushing into canyons and valleys all at once.