Fire danger will range from moderate to very high during the Fourth of July weekend
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — When a thoughtless camper left his campfire in the San Francisco Peaks of Arizona unattended, high winds and dry conditions fueled a wildfire that quickly grew to 15,000 acres.
The Schultz Fire has charred big swaths of forest on a mountain that’s sacred to Native Americans, and resulted in numerous evacuations and dangerous conditions for firefighters.
The same thing could easily happen in Colorado, fire officials warned, as they said that they’ve already received reports of 25 unattended campfires in the Upper Colorado fire management area in the last two months.
There are no fire restrictions in place right now, but the fire danger during the upcoming holiday weekend will range from moderate to very high, depending on location and weather. At the upper end of the scale, it means a fire will start readily from a match or embers and spread rapidly, even to the tops of young conifers.
Campers must not leave a fire while it’s burning and must make sure a fire is completely extinguished before leaving campsites.
Some safety advice from the interagency Upper Colorado Fire Management Unit:
Since the first of May, fire crews from the Upper Colorado River Interagency Fire Management Unit (UCR) have responded to 25 reports of unattended campfires, with several burning well beyond the fire ring they were built in.
Avoid building fires you don’t need; however if you do make campfire, it’s recommended that you build them only in established fire rings within established recreation facilities.
Recreationists should have plenty of water and a shovel near any fire while it is burning, and use plenty of water to put it out. Make sure the ashes have stopped sizzling and are cold to the touch before leaving the area.
Smoking in dry brush areas, heat from vehicle exhaust and converters, fireworks and other pyrotechnic devices are also major causes of wildfire. The use of fireworks or similar devices is prohibited on federal lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management, the Forest Service and the National Park Service.
Fire managers have the flexibility to manage naturally started fires for multiple objectives, including allowing fire to play its natural, beneficial role in the ecosystem. However, all human-caused fires are suppressed are suppressed by firefighters and fully investigated. Human-caused fires often occur in areas with a greater potential to harm life and property.
The ongoing mountain pine beetle epidemic is creating a build-up of fuels in many areas, increasing the potential of human-caused wildfires with costly and dangerous consequences.
Fires should be reported by calling 911 or the Upper Colorado River dispatch center in Grand Junction at (970) 257-4800. Please be prepared to give as much information as possible regarding location and size of the fire when you report it. GPS coordinates can be very helpful.
Filed under: forest fires, forests, public lands, Summit County Colorado Tagged: | campfires, camping, fire danger, national forests, Summit County, Summit County Colorado, Summit County News, unattended campfires, US Forest Service Upper Colorado Fire Management Unit, Wildfires