Steamboat Springs Routt County firefighters say residents should consider themselves fortunate that a large fire hasn't roared to life amid the dry conditions in the county.
Other than two small fires caused by fireworks this week, there have been no wildland blazes in the county during June or July, normally the hottest and driest time of the year.
However, the danger of fire is getting worse every day.
"It's getting dryer and dryer by the hour," Routt County Emergency Manager Chuck Vale said. "We've been pretty fortunate in Routt County."
The same dry conditions that Routt County is experiencing have been a major factor in the wildfires in Moffat and Rio Blanco counties.
Firefighters are working on a blaze near Dinosaur National Monument in Moffat County that has burned 10,050 acres of land. A second Western Slope fire, near Rangely in Rio Blanco County, has burned more than 1,700 acres.
As many as 12 firefighters from the local U.S. Forest Service office have been assigned to help fight the Moffat County fire, Forest Service spokeswoman Denise Germann said.
Vale said he is trying to keep the county's volunteer firefighters in the area to take care of any problems that may arise here.
Moisture levels in vegetation are unusually low and expected to get lower, according to the Craig Interagency Dispatch Center.
Fire danger in Routt County is "very high," Vale said.
Along with fire restrictions implemented on June 21, Routt County is now under a red-flag warning, which means that conditions are not only dry, but conducive to fires spreading out of control quickly.
"It's a heads-up for us to know that we're going to have unusual fire behavior," Steamboat Springs Fire Chief Bob Struble said.
He said the red-flag warning usually accompanies a forecast of dry, warm winds with a high probability of dry lightning.
Seventy-five firefighters in five Routt County fire districts are prepared to respond to any emergency, Vale said.
"We're better prepared than we have been in the past," he said.
The county has better-trained volunteers, more equipment and better communication between districts than ever before. Also, the general public is well aware of the fire dangers, which helps a lot, Vale said.
"We're as good as we can get," he said.
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