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Saturday workshop will help Colorado Springs communities prepare for wildfires

May 3, 2017 Updated: May 3, 2017 at 6:02 pm
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FILE - The Waldo Canyon Fire burns in the mountains west of Colorado Springs, Colo. Tuesday, June 26, 2012. Photo by Mark Reis, The Gazette

A workshop on Saturday will give El Paso County residents the chance to learn how they can ready their communities for the elevated wildfire danger that accompanies the summer season.

The event, free and open to the public, will take place from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday at the Tri-Lakes United Methodist Church at 20256 Hunting Downs Way in Monument.

The session will focus on how attending neighborhoods can become recognized "Firewise" communities, determine their local wildfire risk and reduce fire hazards in their area.

"We're trying to change the point of view of wildfire preparedness to one that looks at the entire community responsibility," said Robin Adair, El Paso County community preparedness coordinator. "Doing your part for wildfire preparedness is a regular part of being a homeowner."

Representatives from neighborhoods that have been certified by the Firewise program, a National Fire Protection Association initiative that accredits communities based on wildfire preparedness, will offer advice on the approval process. El Paso County is home to 44 Firewise communities, but officials are hoping to increase that number, Adair said.

The workshop will also provide tips on personal preparedness, evacuation planning and fire response and recovery. It is sponsored by several local organizations and agencies, including the El Paso County Office of Emergency Management, Tri-lakes Monument Fire Protection District, Tri-Lakes United Methodist Church Emergency Preparedness Group, National Fire Protection Association and the Wissler Ranch Homeowners Association. State Farm Insurance provided a $500 grant to pay for the workshop.

In past years, the county has co-sponsored events that provide homeowners with resources to prepare for the increased wildfire risk that comes along with the summer season. But this marks the first time the county has taken a neighborhood-focused approach, Adair said.

"Educating individual homeowners is making progress, but organizing them as groups to reduce their risks is the next step we need to take," she said.

Residents from at least 25 neighborhoods plan to attend the workshop. Spots are still available, but space is limited. To register, visit www.epcwildfire.eventzilla.net.

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