Counties and Public Land Agencies Offer Friendly Reminders on Best Practices for Preventing Wildfires

For Immediate Release
October 18, 2019
Media Contacts:
Kimberlee Phillips, USFS PAO
(970) 874-6717
Katie Yergensen, Montrose County PIO
(970) 964-8701

Counties and Public Land Agencies Offer Friendly Reminders on Best Practices for Preventing Wildfires

Montrose,COLO.—The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Gunnison, Uncompahgre and Tres Rios Field Offices; Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control (DFPC); National Park Service (NPS), Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park and Curecanti National Recreation Area; the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison (GMUG) National Forests; Colorado Parks and Wildlife; Hinsdale County; San Miguel County; Delta County; Gunnison County; Ouray County; and Montrose County would like to provide a few helpful reminders and tips for best practices to help prevent wildfires this fall.

The Cow Creek fire is currently burning in Ouray County, and while the cause of the fire remains under investigation officials would like to encourage the public to be mindful of fire safety. At this time there are no active fire restrictions within any of the above counties to include U.S. Forest Service managed land. County law enforcement, public land officials, and weather forecasters continue to monitor conditions to determine whether or not restrictions are necessary.

Recreational users on public lands and public engaging in agricultural burning should keep a few things in mind that can help prevent an unintentional wildfire. To reduce wildfire risk, please consider the following:

*Practicing proper vehicle maintenance; ensuring that tow chains are secured and a vehicle has no dragging parts, check tire pressure, and properly maintaining your brakes. Even chains dragging along the ground, such as those on ATVs, can spark fires.
*Park your vehicles/trailers and off-highway vehicles away from dry grass or brush.
*When target shooting taking a few simple precautions can prevent devastating results: place your target on dirt or gravel, switch to paper targets, avoid incendiary targets and exploding ammunition, bring a shovel and fire extinguisher, and report any fires by calling 911.
*Fireworks are never permitted on public lands.
*If you are camping and build a fire outside a designated fire ring make sure you clear the area of debris including, grasses and small vegetation. Clear your fire site perimeter approximately 10 feet in diameter and use rocks or a fire pan to contain your fire. Never leave a fire unattended and make sure that you completely put out your campfire before leaving your campsite. The act of leaving a camp fire unattended can result in a citation.
*Practice the drown, stir, feel method when extinguishing your campfire. Use water or dirt to douse the fire, stir the ashes and if necessary continue to add water or dirt until the fire is smothered.
*When smoking, always dispose of cigarette debris in an ashtray.
*Avoid driving and parking in tall grasses. Exhaust particles and hot exhaust pipes can start grass fires.
*Call your local non-emergency dispatch before and after agricultural burning and know open burning regulations in your area.

Even an accidental fire start can result in the individual being held responsible including fines and/or jail time. Visit One Less Spark ( for more great tips on how to prevent wildfire and be prepared for fire season. To learn more about campfire safety visit

Before heading outside, be sure to “Know Before You Go!” Helpful information about planning your trip can be found on the “Know Before You Go” ( Regulations vary between land management agencies, learn what is permitted before you use fire.

Adhere to the Leave No Trace Principles ( of outdoor ethics to leave your favorite spot ready for the next visitors to enjoy. Keep yourself safe while recreating outdoors by checking the weather before you go, taking the appropriate equipment including maps, carrying enough food and water, letting someone know where you are going and when you plan to be back, and utilizing suggested or required safety equipment. Local fire restriction information can be found online at:

For more information on the Cow Creek Fire, please visit
For more information on regulations for DFPC please visit:
For more information on regulations for the BLM-Uncompahgre Field Office please visit:
For more information on regulations for the BLM-Tres Rios Field Office please visit:
For more information on regulations for the NPS, Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park please visit:
For more information on regulations for the Curecanti National Recreation Area please visit:
For more information on regulations for the GMUG please visit:


Nelson Ditch Fire Update


Contact: USFS GMUG Public Affairs Officer, Kimberlee Phillips, (Phone) 970-874-6717 or (Cell) 970-589-0842

Contact: Montrose County Sheriff Gene Lillard, (970) 252-4023

Date: Thursday, July 18, 2019

Acres: 43 acres as of July 18 at 1800
Containment: 40 %
Personnel: 75
Weather: Hot temperatures and dry conditions continue. The Red Flag Warning from July 18 has been lifted as winds have significantly decreased in the area. Weather conditions continue to be warm with no sign of precipitation in the near future.
Public Safety: For the safety of the public and fire personnel, the public is asked to travel slowly and use caution in the presence of fire crews.
Closures: There are no closures or evacuations associated with the Nelson Ditch fire.
Planned Activity: An incident command post has been created in Norwood to manage fire operations and is being led by Incident Commander Cody Russell with the U.S. Forest Service. The Single Engine Air Tankers (SEATs) were released from the fire and currently two helicopters, one water tender, and six engines remain. Also, a Type 1 Hot Shot Crew—the San Juan Hot Shots out of Durango—arrived today and will begin to increase the fire line and monitor hot spots in the canyon. Firefighters are going direct and actively fighting the fire as allowed with firefighter and public safety as the top priority. Currently there is a perimeter around 40 percent of the fire. The fire continues to burn through pinyon juniper fuels, with no current growth shown after a recent flight by the Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control’s Multi-Mission Aircraft (MMA). The MMA is a Pilatus PC-12 turbo-prop aircraft that is outfitted with state-of-the-art infrared and color sensors that provide near real time information to ground forces on initial attacks on wildfires.
Yesterday’s Activity: The Nelson Ditch Fire was initially reported at 13:43 on Wednesday, July 17, and is the result of a lightning strike. It is located approximately 3.5 miles north of Norwood on Deer Mesa, on public land managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Initial attack resources came from the BLM, MCSO deputies, San Miguel Sheriff’s Office deputies, Norwood Fire, Placerville Fire, and Telluride Fire Protection District’s Wildfire Crew. There was a large amount of smoke in the area and two Single Engine Air Tanker (SEATs) and one helicopter successfully limited the growth of the fire. A large amount of smoke in the area, combined with smoke from wildfires in Arizona, impacted air quality and visibility in the area. Horses that were initially evacuated to the San Miguel County Fairgrounds have returned home to safe conditions. The limited growth of the fire may also be attributed to fire mitigation efforts in the area by private landowners. This mitigation assistance reduces the number of fuels and creates natural barriers to inhibit wildfire growth. Fire updates will be posted to

Homeowners interested in fire mitigation work are encouraged to contact the West Region Wildfire Council at (970) 615-7300 or

Residents are encouraged to sign-up for CodeRED emergency notification. You may list your home phone (landline) or download the CodeRED app for your smart phone. The best way to ensure your safety is to stay informed and signing-up for automated emergency messaging through Code Red. It is free and the application process only takes a minute.

Fire Information Links:

Wildfire Smoke Information:
West Slope Fire Information:
Twitter: @MontroseSheriff

Wildfire in West End of Montrose County

Montrose, COLO. — Montrose County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) is aware of a small wildfire approximately 3.5 miles north of Norwood on Deer Mesa on public land managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). BLM, MCSO deputies, San Miguel Sheriff’s Office deputies, Norwood Fire, Placerville Fire, and Telluride Fire Protection District’s Wildfire Crew are currently working the Nelson Ditch Fire. Two Single Engine Air Tanker (SEATs) and one helicopter have been ordered as air resources.

The Nelson Ditch Fire is estimated at 10-20 acres and moving northeast, and is not currently threatening any structures. The flame lengths are 30-40 feet and the fire is burning in pinyon-juniper fuels towards San Miguel Canyon area. There is a large amount of smoke in the area. Individuals with concerns for air quality should stay indoors, filter air through an air conditioning unit or evaporative cooler, and avoid exercise or strenuous activities in smoky conditions.

There are currently horses being evacuated in the area as well. The San Miguel County Fairgrounds is accepting evacuated horses. Please contact DeeAnna Burbridge at 970-428-3303 to arrange accommodations at the fairgrounds.
Fire updates will be posted to

Please avoid the area of County Road 42ZN and Moondance Trail in order to give fire and emergency personnel space to work. Do not call dispatch to report the smoke. There is additional smoke in the area in both the east and west end of the county from wildfires burning in surrounding states.

Residents are encouraged to sign-up for CodeRED emergency notification. You may list your home phone (landline) or download the CodeRED app for your smart phone. The best way to ensure your safety is to stay informed and signing-up for automated emergency messaging through Code Red. It is free and the application process only takes a minute. Click here.

Self-Serve Sandbag Filling Station Available at Fairgrounds

Montrose, COLO. — Montrose County Emergency Management, Public Works, and Fairgrounds and Event Center have teamed up to install a self-serve sandbag filling station at the fairgrounds available to local residents. The goal of the station is to help homeowners reinforce their property due to high water and flooding potential. The sandbags and sand available at the station are provided free of charge by the county. The sandbag filling station is located on the south side of the beef barn—directly across from the Pythian Avenue entrance to the fairgrounds. It will be open from dawn to dusk. Residents need to bring their own shovels to fill the bags.

“Floods are among the most common weather hazards in the United States. Flooding has already occurred across the county and we are approaching a higher than normal run-off season due to snow accumulations,” said Emergency Manager Greg Fisher. “While there is no immediate danger at this time, we want to plan ahead and offer this service to residents. This sandbag filling station helps provide another tool for homeowners to protect their property.”

Montrose County urges residents to determine if they live in a flood plain and purchase flood insurance as needed. To find out if your house is in a flood plain, please visit and enter your address.

Residents are also encouraged to be prepared and plan ahead for emergencies. The first step is to create an emergency plan and 72-hour kit. Your plan should include the five P’s: people, pets, prescriptions, photos, and personal computer(s). Including the five P’s is essential to five things will have provide a solid foundation for a plan. Visit for plan examples and other preparedness tips. Having a 72-hour kit and resources readily available improves response to emergencies. Please sign-up for CodeRED, the county’s emergency notification system for wireless phones, at

Official updates and preparedness tips are available on the county’s emergency management Facebook page at


Fire Preseason Collaboration

Montrose County Emergency Manager Greg Fisher (left) works with Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control staffers, San Miguel County Sheriff’s Emergency Manager Henry Mitchell (right) and U.S. Forest Service-Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre & Gunnison National Forests and BLM – Southwest Colorado Fire and Aviation Management Unit during a fire preseason collaborators meeting.

Flood Insurance: What is Covered?

Have you experienced flood damage to your home or business as a result of Colorado rainstorms? There are always many questions from the community on what is covered by insurance companies or other programs. The first step is to meet with your insurance agent to review your policy. Flood damage is covered under a separate flood insurance policy and not under your general policy. Flood insurance is purchased directly from your insurance agent.  A list of insurance agents is available on the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) website. The most important aspect of flood insurance is to understand when coverage starts and what is not covered by the policy.

Flood Preparedness Tips

  • Secure a flood insurance policy from an insurance agent.
  • Review your insurance policy with your insurance agent to fully understand what is covered and what is excluded.
  • Prepare your property to minimize flood damage. Follow the steps suggested by the NFIP to Prepare your House.
  • Business owners can follow this Flood Preparedness Checklist.

30-Day Waiting Period

Typically, there is a 30-day waiting period from the date you purchase your policy before it goes into effect. Here are some of the exceptions listed on the NFIP website:

  • If a building is newly designated in the high-risk Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) and you purchase flood insurance within the 13-month period following a map revision, there is a 1-day waiting period.
  • If you purchase flood insurance in connection with making, increasing, extending, or renewing your mortgage loan, there is no waiting period.
  • If you select additional insurance as an option on your insurance policy renewal bill, there is no waiting period.
  • If a property is affected by flooding on burned Federal land and the policy is purchased within 60 days of the fire-containment date, there may be no waiting period. Waiving of the waiting period is determined at the time of claim.

What is Not Covered?

Coverage is limited in basements. It’s also limited in areas below the lowest elevated floor, depending on the flood zone and date of construction. These areas include:

  • Basements
  • Crawl spaces under an elevated building
  • Enclosed areas under buildings that are elevated in full-story foundation walls that are sometimes referred to as “walkout basements”
  • Enclosed areas under other types of elevated buildings

Other items not covered under most flood insurance policies:

  • Damage caused by moisture, mildew or mold that could have been avoided by the property owner
  • Currency, precious metals and valuable papers such as stock certificates
  • Property and belongings outside of an insured building such as trees, plants, wells, septic systems, walks, decks, patios, fences, seawalls, hot tubs and swimming pools
  • Living expenses such as temporary housing
  • Financial losses caused by business interruption or loss of use of insured property

FEMA Assistance

The FEMA Individuals and Households Program is not available for assistance unless designated under a major disaster declaration executed by the President. There are restrictions that come with this program as well as the intent to assist with a safe living space, not to return a structure to pre-disaster conditions.

The FEMA website states, “The Individuals and Households Program (IHP) provide financial help or direct services to those who have necessary expenses and serious needs if they are unable to meet the needs through other means. Up to the IHP maximum is available in financial help (adjusted each year), although some forms of IHP assistance have limits. Flood insurance may be required as indicated below.”

This assistance program will not duplicate insurance coverage.

  • Flood insurance may be required if the home is in a Special Flood Hazard Area.
  • FEMA programs do not return a home to pre-disaster conditions.
  • FEMA programs typically provide assistance with items to meet life-safety needs. Items covered for repair include, but are not limited to, the following:
    • Foundation and roof
    • Windows and doors
    • Floors, walls, and ceilings
    • Septic or sewage system
    • Well or other water system
    • Heating, ventilating, and air conditioning system
    • Electrical, plumbing, and gas systems
    • Entrance and exit ways from the home, including privately owned access roads.

Insurance Resources

Source: National Flood Insurance Program at