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Fire greatest natural threat

ASPEN, Colo. - By the odds, fire is the single greatest threat to Pitkin County, where Aspen is located, more than floods and landslides, and certainly more than tornadoes and earthquakes.

That's according to a new report prepared by county emergency personnel. The study reports a 23 per cent chance in any given year of a wildfire that spreads across 75 acres or more. Less likely, but with far greater consequences, is a wildfire of catastrophic proportions.

"Depending on the size of the wildfire, and its location, the loss of life and amount of damage could be catastrophic," says the draft report.

The report credits Pitkin County with "taking great leadership in mitigation and prevention of wildfires," but notes the lingering possibility of a "fire that quickly burns out of control."

About 58 per cent of all structures in the county are located in what is often described as the wilderness-urban interface, and of those structures, 77 per cent are located within higher-risk areas.

Regulations governing new or expanded homes in the high-hazard interface area mandate more stringent building materials.

 

Telluride also sees fire threat

TELLURIDE, Colo. - Wildfire, too, is the greatest threat facing Telluride and its gondola-linked sibling of Mountain Village.

"It's time to move forward and start doing some things," said Judy Schutza, the district ranger for the U.S. Forest Service. "We need defensible spaces around the communities and around homes."

The Daily Planet reports that a task force of local governments, the ski area operator and the federal government hopes to effect actions on both sides of the federal-private boundary. Just where the money needed to thin trees will come from seems to be in doubt, but there is hope.

 

Small-time growers beaten, plants stolen

TELLURIDE, Colo. - It may not compare to the drug war in Mexico, but the Telluride community was unsettled by a home invasion in a rural areas to the west, near the town of Norwood, by two men wielding guns that looked like AK-47s.

The two men seized several thousand dollars of cash, a gun, and then cut down and hauled off a large amount of marijuana growing on the property.

Bill Masters, sheriff of San Miguel County, said he was surprised at the violence, but not the theft.

The two inhabitants of the house were both men who had medical-marijuana cards, allowing them to possess marijuana and grow up to three plants each. They had exceeded that limit, but Masters told The Telluride Watch that theirs was still a non-commercial operation.