Summit County crews start burning first of more than 13,000 Forest Service slash piles |

Summit County crews start burning first of more than 13,000 Forest Service slash piles

On Monday, Nov. 17, crews started burning slash piles created around Summit County by U.S. Forest Service contractors during recent tree-cutting projects.

Officials warned the public through the SCAlert system that smoke and flames would be visible from multiple piles burning around Peak 7 in Breckenridge near the intersection of Barton Gulch and Airport roads.

After heavy snowfall over the last week, Monday marked the first day of burning, which is expected to continue through the winter as crews from Upper Colorado River Interagency Fire Management burn more than 13,000 slash piles in Summit County.

“When we have adequate snow on the ground like we do now with this recent storm we can start burning the slash piles,” Ross Wilmore, Forest Service fire management officer, said. “We like to burn when weather conditions are favorable to lift smoke out of the area and moisture in vegetation near the slash piles is at acceptable levels to prevent any spread.”

Burning slash piles is necessary to reduce the risk of wildfires entering private property from national forest land, according to the Forest Service.

The slash was created after clear-cutting and thinning projects aimed at reducing wildlife risk, and the wood was piled to cure so it could be effectively burned later.

The piles will be burned under the authority of an approved burn plan and smoke permit.

Crews burn when precipitation, wind, temperature, fuel moisture and staffing allow.

They monitor the burning during ignition and while the piles are burning hot, but they don’t continually monitor the burning piles as heavy ground moisture eliminates the potential for any fire spread.

Burn locations will be identified via SCAlert, which residents can sign up for at

Those whose health conditions might be affected by brief exposure to smoke should contact Lathan Johnson at (970) 640-9165 or Bill Kight at (970) 948-1894.

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