Despite rain, wildfire season far from over | SteamboatToday.com
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Despite rain, wildfire season far from over

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Despite recent rainfall, fire officials warn the wildfire season is far from over.

There was proof of that last year when the Deep Creek Fire northeast of Hayden was discovered on Labor Day and burned 4,161 acres before it was contained Sept. 13.

Last year’s Big Red Fire in North Routt County started in mid-August.

So far, it has been a relatively quiet wildfire season except for the Silver Creek Fire burning southeast of Steamboat Springs in the Routt National Forest.

“We’ve dodged a big bullet so far, but it’s still lurking,” North Routt Fire Protection District Chief Mike Swinsick said. “None of these rain storms that we’ve had up here have lasted more than half an hour or 45 minutes.”

Swinsick said fuel moisture content measurements reached record low levels last week.

Rainfall amounts have varied widely across Routt County.

“We are drier with the rains than we were this time last year,” Swinsick said. “These storms just haven’t been giving us the moisture that everyone else has gotten,” Swinsick said.

He said conditions were breezy Thursday.

“All that moisture is going to blow away, so to speak,” Swinsick said.

He said the rain gauge at Steamboat Lake measured 1 inch for the month of August. Other reports in North Routt ranged from half an inch to just a couple tenths of an inch.

Reports on Thursday morning in the Steamboat area ranged from .22 inches to .34 inches.

In the southern part of Routt County, reports ranged from .18 inches to .24 inches.

On the south side of the Silver Creek Fire, .13 inches of rain fell. At the incident command post along U.S. Highway 40 on the top of Rabbit Ears Pass, .38 inches of rain fell. There are 581 people working at the fire, which has burned 4,745 acres and is 27 percent contained.

Despite the rain, smoke from fires to the west is still obscuring local landscapes.

The Colorado Department of Health and Environment has issued an air quality health advisory through 9 a.m. Friday.

Steamboat meteorologist Mike Weissbluth, who runs snowalarm.com, wrote Thursday that there are chances of rain through Monday. After that, the weather is going to be warmer and sunny with westerly winds.

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


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