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Residents’ wildfire vigilance high

Fire safety tips

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 is dry and extremely flammable.

Always follow current fire restrictions.

Fireworks are not allowed on federal lands.

Stage I fire restrictions currently exist on the Thunder Basin National Grassland.

— A fire manager says the 34,000-acre Beaver Creek wildfire burning on the other side of the Continental Divide in Jackson County has made residents here vigilant when it comes to preventing a similar fire.

Fire safety tips

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 is dry and extremely flammable.

Always follow current fire restrictions.

Fireworks are not allowed on federal lands.

Stage I fire restrictions currently exist on the Thunder Basin National Grassland.

“They’re hyper-sensitive because of Beaver Creek,” said Ich Stewart, fire management officer with the Routt National Forest.

Residents and even some visitors are well aware of fire danger in the forest, where groves of dead beetle-killed pine trees can burn easily and intensely.

“When you get far north, it’s really, really dry,” Stewart said.

So far this summer, U.S. Forest Service firefighters and local firefighters have responded to more than a dozen small fires in the Routt National Forest. Stewart said all the fires have been reported by people using the forest. Sometimes, the people have been using an abundance of precaution, but the Forest Service has no problem sending a crew out to investigate.

“We’re just making sure we provide that service,” Stewart said.

He said they have been receiving a fairly large number of calls from people wanting to report campfires in fire pits that were not completely out.

That was the case Wednesday near the West Summit on Rabbit Ears Pass. Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue firefighters were called to help make sure the fire was completely out.

Other recent fires included a stump Tuesday at the day-use area at Seedhouse Campground. North Routt firefighters put that out.

On Wednesday, a smoldering log was reported in the Zirkel Wilderness at the North Lake trailhead. A Forest Service crew of five firefighters hiked in to investigate. They discovered the fire was about 0.2 acres and had been started by a tree that had been struck by lightning.

Firefighters are using Wilderness tactics to fight the fire, meaning they are using hand tools instead of chainsaws. Aircraft will also not be used.

Stewart said the fire had a low potential to spread, and it is not in a dense area of beetle-killed trees.

“It’s in an area where firefighters can safely work,” Stewart said.

Firefighters will camp out in the area and work to put out the fire in the next two to three days.

Unlike the Beaver Creek fire, the other fires in the Routt National Forest have failed to grow considerably in size.

The Beaver Creek fire on Wednesday continued to grow, and it made a push Tuesday toward the Platte River on the eastern flank of the fire. Firefighters were able to keep the fire from crossing the river, which Stewart said was a huge success.

The fire is now being managed by the Atlanta National Incident Management Organization, which is capable of handling fires that burn a long time. Stewart said that should bring more consistency to firefighting efforts.

So far, only one cabin has burned down at the Beaver Creek fire.

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


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