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CSFD looks at fuel moisture to help determine fire danger

By Dana Molina, Multimedia Journalist/Telemundo Anchor, dana.molina@krdo.com
Published On: Jun 24 2013 08:22:42 PM CDT

The Colorado Springs Fire Department looks at fuel moisture levels to help decide what the fire danger is.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -

The Colorado Springs Fire Department considers several factors to determine fire danger, and one of them is fuel moisture levels.

KRDO NEWSCHANNEL13 had the opportunity to follow a wildfire mitigation specialist in the process of acquiring moisture levels. The fire department does it between the months of May and September twice a week, or once a week if there is a burn ban or burn restriction in place.

First, the specialist gathers and weighs the tin cans she'll use to collect the fire fuels. This takes place in the department's mitigation building. Then, she gathers samples from a location in the north end of the city, such as Mt. Saint Francis. She looks for seven different fuel samples - grass, ponderosa pine, gamble oak, litter and duff. Also on her checklist are 10-hour fuels and 1,000-hour fuels, referring to the amount of time it would take for them to burn. She then repeats the process in a location on the south end of the city, like Stratton Preserve.

Once the samples are collected, they're weighed, cooked in an oven for 24 hours and weighed again. Then, the specialist calculates the fuel moisture content percentage. She subtracts the weight of the dry fuel from the wet fuel, divides it by the weight of the dry fuel, and multiplies by 100.

The percentage, along with other factors like weather, wind speed and relative humidity help the department determine fire danger.

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