Region's fire danger low

Recent rain and cool weather have lessened risk

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Recent rain and cool weather have lowered the fire danger level to low for Routt, Grand and Jackson counties.

Fire danger also has decreased in the rest of Northwest Colorado, and now is moderate in Moffat and Rio Blanco counties, said Lynn Barclay, mitigation education specialist for the Northwest Colorado Fire Management Unit.

A weak drying trend is expected for the weekend and early next week, but by next Tuesday, more of a monsoon weather pattern could return, she said.

Still, she warned, it won't take much of a dry, windy, hot weather pattern to turn conditions around.

"We still have the existing drought conditions and grass fuel loading," Barclay said. "It won't take much when or if this weather moves out."

With early spring rains, grass grew rapidly in Northwestern Colorado. That grass since has dried out, and it easily can fuel fires when weather is dry.

Grass fires easily catch peo--ple off guard, Barclay said, because fire moves so quickly through grass. Gas and heat from those fires can overtake people, she said.

Barclay recommends that people be careful if driving through tall grass.

"There are pockets that haven't received as much rain as other areas, so people need to be aware of the conditions they're in," she said.

But across Colorado in general, fire danger is not extremely high. More fire danger is seen now in the Pacific Northwest, and parts of Montana, Idaho and Utah.

Recently, there have been a couple of fires in Rio Blanco County, including the 4-acre Dry Creek Fire, and the 3,248-acre complex that includes the Pack Trail Fire.

No fire restrictions are in place for Northwest Colorado. In recent years, there have been fire restrictions in place by this time.

Officials evaluate conditions every week to determine whether the criteria for putting fire restrictions in place are met. Restrictions are put in place through coordinated efforts of federal, state and local fire officials.

-- To reach Susan Cunningham, call 871-4203 or e-mail scunningham@steamboatpilot.com

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