In terms of wildfire risk, Routt County is currently ‘better off’ |

In terms of wildfire risk, Routt County is currently ‘better off’

May precipitation data for Steamboat Springs.
Nicole Miller

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Compared to some other parts of Colorado, Routt County is doing relatively well when it comes to wildfire danger.

“Our conditions are probably one of the best counties in the state as far as potential for fire hazard, but that can change real fast,” Routt County Emergency Management Director David “Mo” DeMorat said.

DeMorat is closely monitoring what is occurring in the region.

A pathetic winter of snowfall in Southwest Colorado has created “exceptional” and “extreme drought” conditions, which are the most intense levels of drought categorized by the United States Drought Monitor.

The 416 Fire north of Durango has burned more than 2,200 acres, forced evacuations and led to closures of U.S. Highway 550.

“I know in the southern part of the state they’re burning up, but they have a lot worse conditions,” DeMorat said.

Just south of Colorado in New Mexico, the Ute Park Fire has burned more than 36,000 acres.

On Sunday in western Moffat County, a wildfire burned about 17 acres and threatened the Dinosaur National Monument headquarters.

According to the Drought Monitor, parts of Routt County have no drought conditions, and the western part is abnormally dry.

The mountains high above the Steamboat Springs area had near average snowfall by the end of the winter season, which led to a very green spring.

National Weather Service meteorologist Scott Stearns said the official measuring station in Steamboat received 1.47 inches of precipitation during the month of May. On average, May sees 2.14 inches of precipitation.

Steamboat received the most May precipitation in 2015 with 6.45 inches. The lowest May precipitation was in 1948 when .07 inches was measured.

Restrictions on building campfires and the risk of wildfires will be largely dependent on future precipitation. Warm weather and dry conditions are expected this week.

DeMorat, fire officials and federal land managers in Northwest Colorado have weekly conference calls during the fire season to discuss wildfire conditions.

DeMorat said those conference calls have not started yet.

“At this snapshot in time, right now, we’re better off than most counties in the state,” DeMorat said. “I think things will probably get a lot worse in July.”

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

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