Steamboat Springs As the temperature again flirted with 90 degrees Wednesday and the wind persisted, the fire danger in Routt County was raised from low to high.
“This wind is is killing us,” West Routt Fire Protection District Chief Bryan Rickman said Wednesday. “The wind is what sucks the moisture right out of the the ground. That’s what has me concerned.”
Routt County Emergency Management Director Bob Struble said the fire danger was raised to high because fuels are drying out. One of the seven criteria considered to implement fire restrictions now has been met, Struble said. The fire danger also was raised to high in Jackson and Grand counties. In Rio Blanco and Moffat counties, the danger was raised to very high.
Officials remind people never to leave campfires unattended. When putting out a fire, pour water on the ashes and stir them, making sure the ashes and any unburned wood are cold to the touch before leaving.
Last year, fire restrictions began April 18, when Stage 1 restrictions were enacted and agricultural burns were banned.
Routt County imposed Stage 2 restrictions June 26, which essentially banned any open flames, including recreational campfires. The wildfire risk was so high that Routt County Sheriff Garrett Wiggins grounded the 32nd annual Hot Air Balloon Rodeo on July 7 and 8 because the balloons use open flames. July 4 fireworks also were canceled.
Early this spring, it appeared the region was in better shape heading into the summer. Steamboat Ski Area had 338 inches of snow for the 2012-13 season, almost 2 feet more than the average of 317 inches since the ski area began measuring snowfall in 1979. Precipitation in Steamboat in May was average.
According to Steamboat weather observer Art Judson, there has been only a trace of precipitation this month on June 3 and 10. Average precipitation for June is 1.77 inches, based on a 30-year average.
According to last week’s U.S. Drought Monitor, the western half of Routt County is experiencing severe drought conditions, and the eastern half is experiencing moderate drought conditions.
High temperatures in the 80s and 90s and no moisture are expected through the weekend, according to the National Weather Service in Grand Junction.
From 8 to 10 a.m. Saturday, the North Routt Fire Protection District is holding its annual pancake breakfast at the North Routt Community Charter School. Fire danger, fire preparedness and evacuation plans will be discussed among other topics. The event is free.
To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247 or email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com