With nearly 200 total wildfires burning in 2018 across the Western Slope, to say the least, it’s been one busy fire season for fire officials.
“We’ve responded on the UCR to 198 wildfires so far this year. That includes everything from Mesa County and Grand Junction Field Office up to Garfield County, Summit County, and all the stuff up the river”, says Josh Tibbetts the Deputy Fire Management Officer for the Upper Colorado River Fire & Aviation Unit.
While that is a lot of fires, when comparing it to 138 lightning-caused fires, it shows that man-made fires are lower compared to previous years. Much of that success the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office attributes to massive social media outreach.
“What we did this season is we assembled a portal, a web-based portal, that allows visitors to look at what stage fire restrictions any agency within Mesa County is in”, says Andy Martsolf the Emergency Services Director for Mesa County Sheriff’s Office.
It’s no surprise for anyone living in the state of Colorado that this year was one of the most devastating wildfire seasons in the state’s history. In fact, it’s the reason why we’ve had a quarter of the nation’s air tankers here in Grand Junction just for that reason.
Coordination and efficiency played key roles in firefighting around the Western Slope, without multiple departments and agencies working together in this manner, we’re told things could have been much worse this summer.
“When we think about fire restrictions we pull in the fire chiefs, we bring Mesa County into that discussion, and then the forest service and the BLM. If we were all making those decisions in a vacuum, I think there would be a high potential that we’d be bouncing the public around and looking at a different series of characteristics”, says Katie Stevens the Field Manager for the Grand Junction Bureau of Land Management Office.