Fire crews kept busy with wildland blazes

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— Fire investigators think a campfire left unattended last week may have burned about one acre of land south of Steamboat Springs.

The fire occurred on a boundary between private property and Forest Service land in the Priest Creek drainage near County Road 24. According to dispatch reports, brush trucks from the Steamboat Fire Department responded to the fire at approximately 3 p.m. Friday and the fire was contained by 5 p.m. that day.

A Forest Service spokesperson wasn't sure if the person who left the campfire would be cited or asked to pay the cost of the suppression effort.

The Priest Creek fire was the 12th wildland fire of the spring, according to the county's emergency services manager, Chuck Vale. The majority of this season's wildland fires started as agricultural burns that got out of control due to wind or other factors, Vale said.

Last week, firefighters in Routt County responded to out-of-control agricultural burns on C.R. 36, C.R. 22, C.R. 15, Colorado 131 and U.S. 40.

Vale said agricultural burning to clear dead grass and tree limbs is a necessary part of ranching and farming, but landowners should be aware that some days are not right for fires.

Red-flag days are issued to warn the chiefs from each of the five fire districts in Routt County about hot, dry or windy weather conditions. The National Weather Service helps predict those days.

"We've had about 10 red-flag days this spring, including Saturday," Vale said. "I think it's working well to let the chiefs know what days are red-flag days."

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