Updated June 24, 2011 at 5:25 p.m.
Steamboat Springs Editor's note: This story has been updated to correct that fires near Toponas were Thursday.
A report of smoke Thursday at the King Mountain Ranch near Toponas in South Routt County resulted in Yampa Fire Protection District firefighters extinguishing several small fires.
Routt County Office of Emergency Management Director Bob Struble said the fires occurred at three piles of slash, likely the remnants of controlled burns conducted during winter.
“Winds were blowing really strong, and they felt it was safer to put it out,” Struble said.
He said the largest of the fires occurred in an area of about 20 yards by 10 yards.
Struble said he did not know whether the slash piles ignited on their own or someone was trying to complete a burn from winter.
A large amount of snow remains at higher elevations — 104 inches was reported at 10,500 feet on Buffalo Mountain on Friday — but other areas of Northwest Colorado such as neighboring Moffat County are beginning to dry out.
“They’re drying out right now, and it’s working its way here,” Struble said.
Fire danger in West Routt County might be moderate, he said, and it remains low at higher elevations.
That’s good news for many as the July 4 holiday approaches. In dry years, fire restrictions sometimes prohibit campfires during the holiday, but Struble said he does not think that will be the case this year.
Conditions do change, though, so the Emergency Management Office encourages people to use extreme care with fire.
Fire conditions are ripe just south of Routt in Eagle County, which was put under a red-flag warning Friday by the National Weather Service in Grand Junction.
“Very dry and warm conditions will combine with gusty southwest winds and dry fuels across the lower elevations of southwest and west central Colorado to create critical fire weather conditions,” the Weather Service stated.
The weather through Tuesday in the Steamboat Springs area is expected to be sunny with highs in the high 70s and low 80s.
— To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247 or email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com