Fire danger remains moderate | SteamboatToday.com

Fire danger remains moderate

— As rain passed through Routt County on Friday, the fire danger remained moderate, but U.S. Forest Service officials say conditions in the region are drying out.

No fire restrictions are currently in place for the northwest region, and the area may still be benefiting from record rainfall in May.

"I think we're benefiting in that it keeps the grasses greener longer than normal," Routt County Emergency Management Director Bob Struble said.

A fire to the north on the Medicine Bow National Forest prompted the Forest Service to issue a statement on fire conditions. The 21-acre Little Beaver Fire in the area of Laramie Peak was caused by lightning and reported Aug. 1. Crews were mopping up the fire Thursday.

“Due to the late spring and early summer precipitation throughout the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forests and Thunder Basin National Grassland, or MBRTB, the drying patterns across the units were delayed and fuels previously have not posed significant fire danger,” the Forest Service stated in a news release. “As the forests return to normal drying, coupled with increased lightning storms and erratic winds, there will now be varying levels of fire danger throughout the MBRTB and adjacent regions.”

On Tuesday, Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue firefighters were called to a report of a small wildfire at Fish Creek Reservoir, which is the city’s water supply.

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A single tree had been struck by lightning, and the area below the tree was burning.

The people who reported the fire poured water on the fire and slowed it down. Firefighters finished the job.

Further to the west in California, the Rocky Fire in Northern California was 45 percent contained Friday after burning more than 100 square miles. Struble said a quiet wildfire season in Colorado has allowed local federal fire officials to help with the Rocky Fire, as well as other fires in the region.

Even though no fire restrictions exist in the Routt National Forest, campers and forest users are being asked to follow basic fire safety rules:

• Scrape back dead grass and forest materials from your campfire site.

• Keep your campfire small and under control; make it only as big as you need it.

• Keep a shovel and a water container nearby to douse escaped embers.

• Put your campfire dead out before leaving your campsite or going to sleep.

• Do not park vehicles in tall dry grass, since hot tailpipes can cause fine fuels to catch on fire.

• Remember that any ignition — cigarettes, campfires, gunfire, vehicles — could be the cause of a wildland fire, as grass and other vegetation are dry and extremely flammable.

• Fireworks are not allowed on federal lands.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland