Summit County fire danger hits red zone |

Summit County fire danger hits red zone

summit daily news

SUMMIT COUNTY – Warm temperatures and windy conditions the past few days have boosted the fire danger into the red zone.

As of Wednesday, the danger was rated as high by local fire officials. Lake Dillon Fire-Rescue spokesman Steve Lipsher said it’s the latest date on record for the fire danger to reach that level.

Regular rainfall during the spring and summer kept the danger in the low to moderate range until now, but Lipsher said fire officials are now warning campers to take extra care with their fires, and to report sightings of smoke.

Lipsher also said burn permits will be suspended until conditions improve. Burn permits can still be issued, but the fires themselves cannot be conducted during high wildfire danger.

With temperatures routinely hitting the 80s and relative-humidity levels dropping to the single digits on some days, grasses and plants are starting to turn crisp and form the fuels for fast-moving fires. Additionally, tens of thousands of acres of dead-standing pine trees throughout the High Country continue to pose a heightened wildfire threat that has firefighters on alert.

“Our green grasses are no longer green,” said Deputy Fire Chief Jeff Berino, noting that the “fuel-moisture content” in some plants has dropped to 3 percent and the possibility of dry lightning storms and gusty winds only add to the potential for a fire to flare out of control. “One careless spark could cause a whole world of trouble.

A high fire danger is pretty typical in the arid Rocky Mountain West, but a cool summer punctuated by periodic rainfall has staved off the designation far later than normal in Summit County this year. Usually, the region’s fire danger climbs throughout the spring into July; in some instances, Fourth of July fireworks shows have been scuttled because of the high danger.

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