Sheriff Jason Mikesell hosted a wildfire symposium July 9 in the new Shoemaker Building in Divide.

DIVIDE • As Teller County residents breathe a collective sigh of relief over the recent rains, a wildlife symposium held this month highlighted the deception presented by green grass, leaves and trees.

“Because it’s green, the fuel levels increase,” said Sheriff Jason Mikesell, who hosted the educational symposium for area homeowners’ associations July 9 in the new Shoemaker Building. “We are in good weather now, but we don’t know what will happen.”

More than 30 representatives of the homeowners’ associations in the county came to hear advice from experts about being prepared for wildfire.

For people planning to build a home in forested areas, Chuck Mahoney, representing Park State Bank & Trust, offered tips about construction loans that vary depending on the location.

Patrick Szymankowski, with Aion Insurance Consulting and State Farm Insurance, along with Don Doty, an independent consultant, presented ideas for complying with insurance standards for homes in wildland areas.

Tyler Lambert and Jay Teague, chiefs of fire protection districts in northwest Teller County and Four Mile, gave advice about fire mitigation and recommended that homeowners take advantage of the chipper-loan program. When first implemented at NETCO, more than 200 people used the chipper. Currently, the chipper is at the Four Mile fire station.

With the number of campers increasing these days in the forest, the sheriff has asked for community volunteers to help.

“We have people driving through the forest looking for campfires that are still burning,” Mikesell said. “Our volunteers with the (Teller County Sheriff’s) Posse will put out campfires if they see them.”

In seeking help from the community, the sheriff adds a motto. “If you see something, say something,” he said.

To report anything suspicious, call the sheriff’s department at 719-687-9652 or dial 911 in case of fire or other emergency.

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