Colorado Springs neighborhoods start to prepare for wildfire season

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - Peak wildfire season is here, and when you live at the top of a mountain, it's crucial to know what steps should be taken in the event of a threatening wildfire.

Terri Harmon lives at the very top of Crystal Park, almost 9,000 feet up. Her home is surrounded by trees, and it takes her about 30 minutes to reach the bottom of the mountain. She has one of the furthest distances to travel. Harmon says she has always wondered what to do if a wildfire comes and she has to evacuate.

"I mean you sit there and you always wonder, it’s like, ‘Oh my gosh what happens if there’s a fire? What do we do?' You know? 'What do I grab, what do I take?’ I actually wrote up a list of things to grab so that I have it to say, ‘Okay, you’ve got everything you need. Okay, let’s go!’" Harmon said.

Luckily for Harmon, the Pikes Peak Regional Office of Emergency Management conducted a simulated emergency situation for residents in three neighborhoods. Crystal Park, Crystal Hills, and Upper Skyway neighborhoods all participated in the event.

Residents in those areas signed up to participate in the exercise. The purpose of the drill is to give residents first-hand experience of what it would be like to evacuate their home if it was threatened by a wildfire.

Harmon says due to her secluded location and height on the mountain, going through this exercise was crucial.

“Anytime you can be more prepared is better," she said. “I’m running through my list and making sure I grab it all, stick it in my car and go and see how long that takes me.”

For Crystal Park residents, the drill was slightly different. They went through two scenarios. In the first scenario, Crystal Park Road was closed, forcing residents to have to meet at the Crystal Park Volunteer Fire Department. If the road was actually closed during a fire, residents would gather at the firehouse and shelter in place until the area was safe.

The second scenario forced residents to completely evacuate the neighborhood. They drove to Holmes Middle School which, again, is where they would shelter in place in the event of a true wildfire.

Pikes Peak Emergency Management planners say wildfires could happen at any time of the year regardless of the weather. They want the communities in a high fire danger risk area to know exactly what to do if and when the time to evacuate comes.