Wildfire information

Wildfire in Summit County

Life in the high country includes preparations for the threat of wildfires. Summit Fire & EMS specialists are available for free consultations with individual property owners and are available for presentations to homeowners’ associations, civic groups, business organizations and schools about preparing ourselves, our families and our homes for the event of a wildfire. For free consultations or wildfire-preparation assistance, please contact pio@summitfire.org


All Summit Fire & EMS firefighters have wildfire "red cards" and routinely deploy to assist in fighting wildfires nationwide, helping others and honing their skills to ensure readiness should Summit County be threatened by fire. Summit Fire & EMS personnel also routinely engage in county-wide pre-planning activities to remain knowledgeable and vigilant about developments that affect the ability of firefighters to prepare for a wildfire threat. 


Living with Wildfire in Colorado


FEMA Wildfire Preparation Fact Sheet

Wildfire planning tips

Before a Wildfire Threatens

  • Plan more than one escape route from your home or subdivision by car and by foot.
  • Prepare a family evacuation kit 
  • Pick a meeting place for your family that is a safe distance from your home and which everyone knows.
  • Establish a contact person living outside the area whom everyone in your family can call to check in and get reunited.

If you are warned that a wildfire is threatening your area


  • Back your car into the garage or park in an open space facing the direction of escape. Shut doors and roll up windows. Leave the key in the ignition.
  • Confine pets to one room. Make plans to care for your pets in case you must evacuate.
  • Arrange temporary housing at a friend or relative’s home outside the threatened area.

If you’re sure you have time, take these steps to protect your home:

  • Close windows, vents, doors, venetian blinds or non-combustible window coverings and heavy drapes.
  • Shut off gas or propane. Turn off pilot lights.
  • Move flammable furniture into center of the home away from windows and sliding-glass doors.
  • Turn on a light in each room to increase the visibility of your home in heavy smoke.
  • Seal attic and ground vents with pre-cut plywood or commercial seals.
  • Remove gas grills from decks and patios, place propane tanks in garage.
  • Place combustible patio furniture inside.
  • Connect garden hoses to outside taps, leave in obvious location for firefighters.
  • Place a non-combustible ladder on house for access to roof for firefighters.
  • Remove firewood or any other stored combustibles near your home.
  • Remove all shrubs within 15 feet of your home.

If advised to evacuate, do so immediately and safely

  • Wear protective clothing-sturdy shoes, cotton or woolen clothing, long pants, long sleeved shirt, gloves and a handkerchief to protect your face.
  • Take your evacuation kit.
  • Lock your home.
  • Tie a white towel, sheet or ribbon on your front door; this advises emergency responders that your home has been evacuated.
  • Tell someone when you left and where you are going.
  • Choose a route away from fire hazards. Watch for changes in the speed and direction of fire and smoke.

For more information or if you have any questions, call or stop by any of our fire stations.

Wildfire evacuation kit

At a minimum, have the basic supplies listed below. Keep supplies in an easy- to-carry emergency preparedness kit that you can use at home or take with you in case you must evacuate.

  • Water—one gallon per person, per day (three-day supply for evacuation, two- week supply for home)
  • Food—non perishable, easy- to- prepare items (three- day supply for evacuation, two-week supply for home)
  • Flashlight
  • Battery -powered or hand- crank radio (NOAA Weather Radio, if possible)
  • Extra batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Medications (seven-day supply) and medical items
  • Multi- purpose tool
  • Sanitation and personal hygiene items
  • Copies of personal documents (medication list and pertinent medical information, proof of address, deed/lease to home, passports, birth certificates, insurance policies)
  • Cell phone with chargers
  • Family and emergency contact information
  • Extra cash
  • Emergency blanket
  • Map(s) of the area

Consider the needs of all family members and add supplies to your kit. Suggested items to help meet additional needs are:

  • Medical supplies (hearing aids with extra batteries, glasses, contact lenses, syringes, cane)
  • Baby supplies (bottles, formula, baby food, diapers)
  • Games and activities for children
  • Pet supplies (collar, leash, ID, food, carrier, bowl)
  • Two -way radios
  • Extra set of car keys and house keys
  • Manual can opener
  • Whistle
  • N95 or surgical masks
  • Matches
  • Rain gear
  • Towels
  • Work gloves
  • Tools/supplies for securing your home
  • Extra clothing, hat and sturdy shoes
  • Plastic sheeting
  • Duct tape
  • Scissors
  • Household liquid bleach
  • Entertainment items
  • Blankets or sleeping bags

What we've learned

Among the key findings in the Lessons from Waldo Canyon report produced by the Fire Adapted Communities Coalition are:

  • Creating and maintaining effective defensible space around homes and businesses, and using ignition-resistant construction techniques are critical to reducing a building’s risk of igniting.
  • A community-wide approach to wildfire preparedness that includes all stakeholders substantially improves the chances of successful mitigation efforts. The Colorado Springs Mitigation Section is a good example of this approach. Their actions reduced the number of homes destroyed or damaged during the Waldo Canyon Fire.
  • Using fuels management tools to reduce flammable vegetation found around neighborhoods and in more remote areas is an effective way to reduce the spread of a wildfire.

See the accompanying video here.

Summit County Wildfire Council

Officials from Summit County, local fire districts, state and federal forest agencies, towns and others joined forces to develop the community’s wildfire protection plan. This national model for wildfire protection planning is an extension of the Healthy Forest Restoration Act authorized by Congress in 2003. Since the plan’s inception, the Wildfire Council and staff have continually reviewed and refined the SCCWPP to meet the community’s changing needs concerning wildfire protection. The close collaboration between the county, the fire protection districts, the Colorado State Forest, the U.S. Forest Service and the towns makes this an extremely effective program. 


Summit County’s Community Wildfire Protection Grant Program


Since 2006, the Board of County Commissioners, through the Summit County Wildfire Council, has provided matching grants to eligible homeowner groups to conduct hazardous fuels reduction projects. The next Hazardous Fuels Reduction Grant application period will be from April 1 – 30, 2018.  For more information, call (970) 668-4140. 

Ready, Set, Go!

Summit Fire & EMS is teaming up with the national Ready, Set, Go! program to encourage citizen preparation for the possibility of a catastrophic wildfire.


See the accompanying video here.

Ready, Set, Go! Colorado


Among the key findings in the Lessons from Waldo Canyon report produced by the Fire Adapted Communities Coalition are:

  • Creating and maintaining effective defensible space around homes and businesses, and using ignition-resistant construction techniques are critical to reducing a building’s risk of igniting.
  • A community-wide approach to wildfire preparedness that includes all stakeholders substantially improves the chances of successful mitigation efforts. The Colorado Springs Mitigation Section is a good example of this approach. Their actions reduced the number of homes destroyed or damaged during the Waldo Canyon Fire.
  • Using fuels management tools to reduce flammable vegetation found around neighborhoods and in more remote areas is an effective way to reduce the spread of a wildfire.