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Red flag fire warning for parts of Colorado

Record high temps, SW winds combine for fire weather

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Red flag fire conditions could persist across much of Colorado this week.

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — A wet spring has delayed the onset of critical wildfire conditions in parts of Colorado, but not everywhere. The National Weather Service has issued a red flag warning for big parts of Colorado, including the entire southern half of the state, parts of the Western Slope and a strip along the Front Range from Colorado Springs through Fort Collins to the Wyoming border.

According to the warning, the wildfire danger is “very high to extreme” in the Rocky Mountain foothills and South Park, where dry lightning storms could flare up this evening. Continue reading

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Red flag fire warning in SW Colorado

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Hot and dry conditions in the Four Corners have prompted a red flag warning.

Record-high temps possible Sunday and Monday

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — While a cool and wet spring prevailed in the north-central mountains, it’s a different story in the southwestern part of the state, where a prolonged period of above normal temperatures and minimal precipitation have left fuels ready to burn at lower elevations.

Parts of the Four Corners area  will be facing significant fire danger this weekend and early next week as temperatures rise to record or near-record highs. A Red Flag warning is in effect from 1 p.m. through 8 p.m. for the San Juan mountains below 9,000 feet and extending into the Jemez Mountains and the upper Rio Grande Valley of northern New Mexico.

Winds will gust up to 30 mph with relative humidity values in the lower teens combining to create critical fire conditions. Any fires that start are likely to spread rapidly, according to the National Weather Service.

Strong high pressure over the desert Southwest has already led to record highs in parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Texas, and the heat wave is expected to intensify. For western Colorado, temps are expected to run about 10 degrees above average Sunday and nudge up to near record levels Monday.

 


 

Colorado: Fire bans lifted at higher elevations

It’s been a busy year for firefighters already, but recent rains have helped ease the threat of wildfires in western Colorado.

Varying restrictions remain in effect on the Western Slope, so know before you go

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Abundant rains across parts of the Colorado high country have prompted some jurisdictions to ease fire restrictions, enabling visitors to enjoy controlled campfires in developed recreation sites and other safe settings.

Officials said the fire danger hasn’t completely disappeared and are still urging caution. For now the fire danger is rated as moderate across the White River National Forest, which means fires can still spread from an ignition source like a campfire, but is likely to spread slowly. As a result, the forest is lifting the fire ban effective July 20.

At lower elevations farther west, the fire danger is still rated from high to very high, and varying restrictions remain in effect. Visit this interactive Colorado Office of Emergency Management website to get up-to-date information on fire restrictions in your area. Continue reading

Colorado: West Slope still under Stage II fire ban

Fire danger across large parts of western Colorado is still in the upper end of the danger spectrum.

Lightining-caused fires still being reported

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Spotty thunderstorms over parts of Colorado the past week didn’t dampen the overall fire danger, according to federal land managers, who decided this week to leave Stage II fire restrictions in place in the White River National Forest, the Colorado River Valley and Western Slope BLM lands.

Firefighters from local fire protection districts as well as the Upper Colorado River fire management area have responded to several lightening-caused fires across the area in the past week. Continue reading

Breckenridge enacts Stage 2 fire ban

Restrictions emphasize zero-tolerance enforcement

Fire danger in Colorado has prompted widespread fire restrictions.

Extreme fire danger prevails across Colorado.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — The Town of Breckenridge this week adopted Stage 2 fire restrictions in coordination with Stage 2 Fire Restrictions instituted by Summit County and the U.S. Forest Service.

The current fire danger in the area has been ranging between very high and extreme and the weather forecast predicts continued dryness with the potential for high winds.

“In this time of extreme fire danger it is incumbent on all of us to be diligent in our use of fire-producing products.” said Police Chief Shannon Haynes.“The department will take a zero tolerance approach to violations of the Mayor’s declaration and the Town of Breckenridge Municipal Court will assess fines up to $999 with possible jail time of 364 days for convicted offenders.” Continue reading

Fire danger prompts Frisco to cancel July 4th fireworks

Safety and wildfire concerns drive difficult decision

Frisco’s Fourth of July includes a fabulous Main Street parade.

No Fireworks in Frisco this Fourth of July.

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — After serious discussion and soul-searching — not to mention some sobering input from Sheriff John Minor and local fire officials — the Frisco Town Council voted Tuesday night to cancel the traditional July 4th fireworks due to wildfire and public safety concerns.

The town may reschedule a fireworks display or create a new event sometime later in the summer, according to a press release from the town.

In a year when fuel moisture is at record low levels, it would only take one stray ember or spark to start a fire in forests or grasslands around the Reservoir.

In a letter to the town council, Sheriff Minor spelled out his concerns and said that the town would have taken on sole responsibility and liability for any damages resulting from a fire caused by fireworks or related activities. More details in this Summit Voice story. Continue reading

Drought watch: Frisco town council to discuss possible cancellation of July 4th fireworks display

Will there be a July 4th fireworks display in Frisco this year?

State, local bans authorize exemptions to fireworks ban with restrictive conditions

By Bob Berwyn

*Read what locals think about Frisco fireworks at our Facebook page.

SUMMIT COUNTY — The Frisco Town Council tonight will likely make a final decision on whether to hold its popular Independence Day fireworks display, considering this summer’s dangerous wildfire conditions and a statewide ban on fireworks issued by Gov. John Hickenlooper.

The council will weigh input from Summit County Sheriff John Minor, who sent the town a strictly worded letter spelling out conditions under which the town could proceed with a display under certain exemptions to the state and county fireworks ban.

The letter also included input from Lake Dillon Fire-Rescue Chief Dave Parmley, who said that local, regional and statewide fire concerns all are factors in the decision.

Firefighting resources are already stretched thin across the state. Weather conditions on the day of the planned fireworks could be basis to say it’s a no-go, Parmley said, adding that he thinks the town council will make a good decision. Continue reading

Colorado: Unattended campfires a huge concern

Fire officials report finding several unattended campfires

Unattended campfires can quickly grow into out of control wildfires. PHOTO COURTESY U.S. FOREST SERVICE.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Unattended campfires across western Colorado are once again causing concern for land managers, who are warning campers that the fire danger is increasing as warm and windy weather melts the snowpack and dries out fuels.

Since early May, fire crews from the Upper Colorado River Interagency Fire Management Unit have responded to several reports of unattended campfires.

Fire officials are forecasting a moderate to very high fire danger over the next few days. While there are no fire restrictions in effect at this time, all recreationists are urged to exercise caution with open campfires, leaving no fire unattended and to make sure fires are completely out prior to leaving them. Avoid building fires you don’t need. Continue reading

Are beetle-killed forests more flammable – or not?

‘Bugs and fires are neither good nor bad, they just are.’

How fire-prone are Summit County's beetle-killed forests?

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Using satellites to map beetle-killed areas and forest fires in the West, a team of researchers say they are not finding much evidence that large fires occur more often or with greater severity in forest tracts with beetle damage.

The findings are in line with other recent studies that examined the relationship between beetle-kill and fires. There is strong evidence that, in some cases, beetle-killed forest swaths may actually be less likely to burn.

According to conventional wisdom, beetle-killed forests are fire disasters waiting to happen, but it may not be quite that simple — especially because some forest managers and fire officials have been hanging their hat on the pine beetle-fire danger link for quite some time. Some tend to shrug off research that runs counter to their message, which, at best, is overly simplified. At worst, it’s dangerous, because it confuses the critical safety message that trees — whether dead or alive — need to be cleared and thinned well away from homes, neighborhoods and important infrastructure in order to prevent fire damage. Continue reading

Rangers finding unattended campfires in Colorado

An unattended campfire sparked the 15,000 acre Schultz Fire in Arizona's San Francisco Peaks area, resulting in significant damage to natural resources and impacts to residents of the area. PHOTO COURTESY THE U.S. FOREST SERVICE.

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. Continue reading

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