Moisture levels ease wildfire concerns for Summit County
No fire restrictions yet, but wildfire risk increases toward the end of June
Local state and federal partners have gathered for a second meeting on Tuesday, June 7, to discuss the condition of fire risk in Colorado.
After the call at the Summit County Board of County Commissioners meeting also on Tuesday, June 7, Sheriff Jaime FitzSimons reported there are currently no fire restrictions recommended for Summit County. FitzSimons and sheriffs from around the state meet weekly on Tuesday mornings to analyze reports from the Upper Colorado River Interagency Fire Management Unit.
The organization spans 6.7 million acres along the Upper Colorado River and follows the Interstate 70 corridor from the Continental Divide to the Utah state line. It works with local communities to help prevent and suppress fires in Colorado.
FitzSimons said the group has helped Summit to identify and create specific data triggers that will determine when a fire restriction should be put into place.
As of now, data from the unit does not show that Summit County is in need of a fire restriction. Live fuel moisture is above average, and “The last couple days of precipitation have been helping us,” FitzSimons said.
Live fuel moisture describes how much moisture is within a plant that has the potential to be burned in a wildfire. Right now, FitzSimons reported that live fuel moisture is in the 70th percentile, meaning there is still lots of moisture.
However, these conditions may not last long, and many contributing factors are still up in the air.
Summit County Commissioner Joshua Blanchard called the final weeks of June “maybe our most vulnerable time,” and expressed concern about fire risk. FitzSimons said that there is significant wildfire potential for the month of June, as indicated by an above normal temperature and below average precipitation forecast that he said would last through June 14.
“You don’t need to look very far outside to see that the valley floors are very dry for this time of year,” FitzSimons said.
Even though there is increased risk, monsoons are anticipated after the last weeks of June. However, conditions can change quickly.
“As we all know, it’s like predicting a winter storm,” FitzSimons said.
If a wildfire does break out, “Local state and federal resources are all staffed and available,” FitzSimons said. And starting June 15, to help mitigate wildfires, the Department of Fire Prevention and Control has added three aircrafts to its fleet. The aircrafts, brought in for fire season, are based in Denver.
“That really lucky for us,” Summit County Commissioner Elisabeth Lawerence said.
“We’ll just take it week by week,” FitzSimons said. “And we’ll tiptoe.”
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