Nelson Ditch Fire Update

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE July 18, 2019

Contact: USFS GMUG Public Affairs Officer, Kimberlee Phillips
kim.phillips@usda.gov, (Phone) 970-874-6717 or (Cell) 970-589-0842

Contact: Montrose County Sheriff Gene Lillard
glillard@montrosecounty.net, (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 westslopefireinfo.com.

Homeowners interested in fire mitigation work are encouraged to contact the West Region Wildfire Council at (970) 615-7300 or http://www.cowildfire.org/.

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. https://public.coderedweb.com/CNE/en-US/BFB7CC4C6C0A

Fire Information Links:

Wildfire Smoke Information: www.colorado.gov/cdphe/wood-smoke-and-health
West Slope Fire Information: www.WestSlopeFireInfo.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MontroseCountySO
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 westslopefireinfo.com.

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 https://msc.fema.gov/portal/search 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 ready.gov 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 montrosecountysheriffsoffice.com.

Official updates and preparedness tips are available on the county’s emergency management Facebook page at fb.com/montrosecountyOEM.

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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 www.Floodsmart.gov

Flooding: Know Your Risk by Montrose County Commissioner Keith Caddy

Growing up in the valley, I have lived through years of both drought and flooding. Following last year’s struggles with wildfire, drought, and record high temperatures, this farming season is shaping up to be very different. The fields are green — even parts of the adobe areas have ground cover sprouting up. As the temperatures continue to climb, the county has not seen the end of the flooding from run-off and increased spring rains.

Last week, residents off Marine Road experienced flooding. To date, one home took on water, and the water levels were coming near others. The water level was high enough in the road that the postal service was not able to deliver mail (including bills, paychecks and more). The county felt it was in the best interest of the several-hundred individuals living in the area to provide assistance. Thank you again to the following volunteers and agencies involved for the efforts to remediate floodwaters in the area: Haynes Excavation, ATC, Colorado Department of Emergency Management, Montrose County Jail Inmates, City of Montrose Public Works and Gunnison County.

Floods are among the most common weather hazards in the United States. They can happen anywhere at any time of year. Do you know if you live in a floodplain? To find out, please visit msc.fema.gov/portal/search and enter your address. If you live in or near a flood plain, I strongly recommend insurance. Please contact your insurance agent for more information.

Montrose County is home to a complicated irrigation system and several natural flowing streams and creeks. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers manages the natural waterways, and the county is not allowed to legally alter, modify, or engage in mitigation work on these waterways. The county can liaise with the Corps to work on mitigation efforts on a project-by-project basis. The majority of flooding, however, occurs on private property. I encourage you to take steps to protect your property and house if you live on or near an area with flooding potential. Know where to find sandbags and resources if needed and plan.

Be prepared — with knowledge and a plan — to decrease the impacts of a disaster. To begin a plan, first think of the five P’s: people, pets, prescriptions, photos, and personal computer. These five things should be considered when developing a plan. Visit ready.gov for plan examples and other preparedness tips. Having a 72-hour kit and resources readily available in the time of any emergency eases panic and improves your response to the situation.

Montrose County is here to help. Emergency Manager Greg Fisher works under the Sheriff’s Office and leads the county’s emergency planning efforts. Fisher also manages response to disasters. Don’t worry, the county will be involved when the situation is life-threatening or requires evacuations; the county may be involved when infrastructure is threatened or when the negative impacts to the community are overwhelming. Finally, do not forget to sign-up for the county’s emergency notification system CodeRED at montrosecountysheriffsoffice.com.

You can reach me by email at kcaddy@montrosecounty.net or by phone at 970-249-7755 to continue talking about flooding and waterways.


Appears in the Montrose Press on Sunday, May 12, 2019