Steamboat Springs Routt County may appear to be less prone to fires than drier areas in the state, but looks are deceiving.
"We are green here," said Kent Foster, U.S. Forest Service official. "However, we are not as green as we should be."
This weekend proved that Routt County is not immune to the wildfires now burning in central Colorado and the Glenwood Springs area.
A fire that broke out Sunday on private land in northwest Routt County and southern Wyoming has consumed about 12 acres, Routt County Emergency Manager Chuck Vale said.
The Brush Mountain Fire started when a slash pile, fueled by the weekend's hot, dry conditions, flared into flames. The landowner burned several similar slash piles this winter to reduce the fuel potential on his land.
Vale said he expected to turn the fire over to the landowner Monday afternoon.
Two bulldozers and 16 people representing Moffat County, the Steamboat Springs Fire Department and the West Routt Fire Protection District helped contain the fire.
Support from outside the county was critical, he said, because the necessary manpower was not available from fire departments within Routt County.
"We've had a really tough time getting enough volunteers," he said.
Vale asked for assistance from the Bureau of Land Management and the state Office of Emergency Management, but instead of an expected 40 to 50 people, nine people showed up with the understanding they would eventually be needed for fires with higher priority.
Routt County was asked to contribute manpower to fight the blaze near Glenwood Springs.
Vale said he went back and forth on his answer, but fires on the home front finally convinced him Routt County could not afford to give up its own.
Two small fires broke out in Stagecoach Saturday and Sunday when high winds pushed a tree into a power line.
The Oak Creek Fire Protection District and Yampa Fire Protection District responded and extinguished the blazes.
Vale said he wanted to assist the county's neighbors, but such a move posed risks to Routt County's ability to respond to its own blazes.
"The bottom line is we don't have enough people to respond to what we're responding to as it is," he said.
County Commissioner Doug Monger toured the fire in northwest Routt County Sunday.
He reiterated the importance of a countywide fire ban.
"It could turn just as catastrophic as Glenwood Springs in just a heartbeat," Monger said.
The county's needs still had to be measured against the severity of fires in other parts of Colorado, he said.
"We can do what we can do by taking care of our own situation, our own problem," he said.
Fires over the weekend proved the importance of fire districts cooperating to get the job done, County Commissioner Dan Ellison said.
"No one organization really has enough people to go after that," he said.
Vale commended the efforts of local and regional fire departments to stay on top of area fires.
"We have our act together in this corner," he said.