Summit County: ‘Very high’ to ‘extreme’ fire danger leads to fire ban | SummitDaily.com

Summit County: ‘Very high’ to ‘extreme’ fire danger leads to fire ban

ROBERT ALLEN
summit daily news

SUMMIT COUNTY – Acute fire danger has led to a countywide ban effective immediately on controlled burns and campfires outside designated campgrounds.

“Even the best-intentioned, small recreational fires can have disastrous results,” said Kim Scott, spokeswoman for Red, White and Blue Fire District in Breckenridge.

Summit County commissioners called an emergency meeting Monday morning to approve the ban – which also includes sale or use of all types of fireworks – after the National Weather Service issued a warning of imminent “critical fire weather conditions.”

The danger was “very high” to “extreme” Monday, with gusty winds and low humidity, according to http://www.crh.noaa.gov.

Summit County is near the center of the danger zone, which stretches from western Utah to eastern Colorado and up to the northern border of Wyoming.

“The whole region is on tenterhooks because of the extreme fire danger,” said Steve Lipsher, spokesman with Lake Dillon Fire-Rescue. “Firefighting resources have been put to the test and spread thin in recent weeks.”

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The local ban is to remain in effect until the commissioners’ next meeting Sept. 28, when they’ll choose whether to extend it.

While most fireworks are always illegal in the county, even sparklers and snakes are included under the ban, assistant county manager Scott Vargo said.

Kim Scott said it’s typical for the wildfire danger to increase between mid-summer and early fall. Summer rain helped grass grow. But that vegetation is drying out, for September hasn’t brought much precipitation.

“Even flicking cigarettes outside of windows can start a fire,” she said.

The Fourmile Fire in Boulder County earlier this month is suspected to have been caused by a resident who’d burned a debris pile and extinguished the fire before the wind reignited embers. The ensuing wildfire burned more than 6,000 acres and destroyed more than 165 homes.

The U.S. Forest Service on Monday reported a 1,200 acre fire in Albany County, Wyo. – near the Colorado border – was only 25 percent contained. The cause of that fire is under investigation, according to http://activefiremaps.fs.fed.us.

Local agencies continue to encourage property owners to create firebreaks of 30 feet around their homes.

“This can be accomplished by creating 10- to 15-foot spacing between clumps of trees, removing limbs from trees to 10 feet off the ground and trimming grasses to

4 inches high,” according to a press release from Lake Dillon Fire-Rescue.

All dead vegetation should be thinned, as well. Property owners are advised to display street addresses visibly and choose fire-resistant roofing and decks to help reduce the threat of hot embers sparking fires, according to the press release.

County emergency manager Joel Cochran advises residents to be ready to evacuate on short notice, with plans to reunite with family afterward.

“The fires on the Front Range have moved with incredible speed, and we heard accounts of people getting out with just the clothing on their back,” Cochran said in the LDFR press release. “Everyone should think now: What would I grab from my home if I had only 15 minutes to get out? Having irreplaceable items like critical documents, photo albums and computer drives in one place and available will simplify things in a crisis.”

An emergency kit with three day’s worth of food, water, clothing and medicine is recommended. Often-overlooked items include food for pets, activity books for young children and even candy to help lift spirits, according to the press release.

SDN reporter Robert Allen can be contacted at (970) 668-4628.