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Officials warn that PitCo is 'primed for wildfire'

Apr 25, 2018

A firefighter works on a prescribed fire in Avalanche Creek last year.
Credit Elizabeth Stewart-Severy/Aspen Public Radio News

Pitkin County commissioners approved an update to the county’s hazard mitigation plan Wednesday. It comes as officials are preparing for a dry, hot summer and increased wildfire danger.

Valerie MacDonald is Pitkin County’s emergency manager. She told commissioners at a meeting Wednesday that the county has been fortunate, as it has not experienced any major natural disasters, but that could change.

“We are overdue, and we are perfectly primed for a catastrophic wildfire here,” she said.

The hazard mitigation plan lays out actions to help the government prevent and prepare for natural disasters, like landslides, flooding and wildfire. With low snowpack and projections for drought this summer, wildfire is a major concern, and MacDonald said it’s not enough that the county is prepared.

“If there's a catastrophic event here, local government will not be able to do it alone," she said. "We are going to need a public that is prepared to take action.”

That means developing an emergency plan and knowing possible evacuation routes.