Dry weather increases danger for wildfires in Routt County

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— Officials say dry weather is leading to an increased fire danger in Northwest Colorado.

“We are getting into the fire season in the high country,” said Mark Cahur, zone fire management officer for the Routt National Forest.

The fire danger is currently considered “moderate” in the Routt National Forest and there are no restrictions in place. The fire danger likely will increase as seasonal curing of vegetation occurs toward the end of summer and early fall, Cahur said.

Fire activity in Northwest Colorado also is on the rise. On Sunday, Steamboat-based U.S. Forest Service firefighters responded to a 1-acre fire in North Routt County that was caused by a lightning strike. The fire was west of Forest Service Road 150 near First Creek, and crews were expected to finish mopping up the fire Tuesday, Cahur said.

About two dozen wildfires were reported during the weekend in Moffat and Rio Blanco counties on land managed primarily by the Bureau of Land Management. Lightning caused all of those fire except for one, which was caused by a car fire.

In response to the wildfire threat, the Rocky Mountain Area Coordination Center has increased the preparedness level from PL 2 to PL 3 for the Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wyoming region. The five preparedness levels range from 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest.

Locally, Cahur said the level remains at PL 2.

According to a RMACC news release, each preparedness level has specific management directions.

“As the Preparedness Levels rise, more federal, local and state employees become available for fire mobilization if needed,” the release states.

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