Fire danger drops to moderate |

Fire danger drops to moderate

Jane Reuter

SUMMIT COUNTY – Summit County’s fire danger dropped Tuesday from “very high” to “moderate,” but the fire bans enacted in early June remain in effect.

There are five levels of fire danger: low, moderate, high, very high and extreme.

“With this rain, there was finally some saturation,” Snake River Fire Chief Dave Parmley said of Monday’s rainfall. “We’re by no means out of the danger zone, but we’re beginning to see the top surface of the soil loosen up and get some saturation.”

The decision came from the U.S. Forest Service. Dillon District Ranger Jamie Connell said it was based on recent rain and lower temperatures.

“We update that often, so it doesn’t necessarily mean it would be the same over the next few days, but that’s the case for now,” she said.

Patti Maguire, Summit County’s wildlife mitigation officer, said she does not feel overly optimistic about the reduction in the fire danger level.

“We had a big thunderstorm, but I know conditions could be just as bad tomorrow if we don’t get more rain,” she said. “I wouldn’t get all excited about it at this point. If it’s a three- or five-day run, then I would be real pleased.”

Maguire also pointed out that Monday’s storm brought with it “an awful lot of lightning,” which gives rise to the fear of backcountry fire starts that sometimes go unnoticed for days.

Sheriff Joe Morales said the weather is beginning to feel differently than during a heat wave that scorched much of the state earlier this summer.

“It’s cooling off – humidity is up,” he said. “But we need to get into a consistent trend of precipitation and moisture.”

Until such a trend exists, he said, there won’t be any thought about lifting fire bans. Summit County, he pointed out, also must work with the governor’s office and National Forest; those offices have also issued fire bans.

He hopes, however, for an easing of the restrictions by fall.

“We’re going to start having fall campers,” he said, “and then it might be prudent to look at those burn bans.”

Jane Reuter can be reached at 668-3998, ext. 229, or by e-mail at

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