Routt County gun ranges close because of fire danger; 3 wildfires spark on holiday |

Routt County gun ranges close because of fire danger; 3 wildfires spark on holiday

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Colorado Parks and Wildlife has closed seven gun ranges across Northwest Colorado, including two in Routt County, because of extreme fire danger in the area.

The Hayden and Yampa ranges have been closed along with Parks and Wildlife ranges in Eagle, Garfield, Grand and Mesa counties, according to a news release from Parks and Wildlife.

Closed shooting ranges

Routt County: Hayden Range and Yampa Range

Eagle County: Basalt State Wildlife Area

Garfield County: West Rifle Creek State Wildlife Area

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Grand County: Byers Canyon Rifle Range

Mesa County: Plateau Creek State Wildlife Area and Cameo Temporary Shooting Range

“With these extreme drought conditions, we are closing our ranges out of an abundance of caution,” Parks and Wildlife Northwest Regional Manager JT Romatzke was quoted as saying in the release.

The move comes after tracer rounds started the Lake Christine Fire at the shooting range at Basalt State Wildlife Area. That blaze grew to nearly 5,000 acres Thursday and burned three homes overnight, according to the Aspen Times.

Tracer rounds include a pyrotechnic charge and are illegal, according to Parks and Wildlife. The shooters have been issued summons, and Parks and Wildlife is working with the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office and the 5th Judicial District district attorney to file charges against the pair, according to the release.

“Participation in shooting sports happens safely every day, and an unfortunate incident like this one shows the importance of respecting the rules and laws regarding the use of firearms,” Parks and Wildlife Director Bob Broscheid was quoted as saying in the release.

3 Steamboat fires sparked July Fourth

Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue responded to three grass fires Wednesday near West End Storage, Yampa Valley Medical Center and Clubhouse Drive near Highlands Way, according to a news release from the city of Steamboat Springs.

“We’re not sure how they all got started, but we got them all put out,” Chief Mel Stewart said.

Steamboat resident Jami Partrick believes a fire near her home was started by fireworks.

“A loud boom woke me up, and just a few minutes later I smelled smoke,” Partrick wrote in an email to the Steamboat Pilot & Today. “I ran to our deck and saw and heard fire.”

Partrick wrote that she called 911 and that firefighters arrived on scene “immediately.”

“With the fires around the state, I can’t stress it enough: Please be careful, vigilant and use extreme caution,” Stewart was quoted as saying the press release. “It only takes a spark, and we could be dealing with something a whole lot larger.”

Video courtesy Skyler Nelson

Video courtesy Jami Partrick

Chedsey fire grows in Routt National Forest

A wildfire burning in Routt National Forest about 13 miles northeast of Steamboat Springs in Jackson Country grew to 45 acres Wednesday and is 40 percent contained.

The Chedsey Fire growth was mostly due to a burnout operation, where firefighters ignite vegetation to “help secure the perimeter of the fire,” according to a report by the U.S. Forest Service.

“We’re hoping to have some additional gains in the containment at some point,” Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest spokesman Aaron Voos said. “That’s part of the reason that they did those burnouts.”

Firefighter safety is a concern because the fire is burning in an area thick with beetle-killed lodgepole pine trees.

“From the very get-go, we had to kind of take an indirect suppression approach to it,” Voos said. “We couldn’t go right in on it and actively suppress it.”

Firefighters focused their efforts on solidifying fire lines on nearby roads and waited for the fire to come to them, Voos said.

“That’s the reality of firefighting in beetle-kill areas,” he said.

Closures in the area include Teal Lake Campground and Newcomb Park Trail along with Jonah, Whale, Martha, Shoestring and Albert lakes.

Hot, hazy weekend ahead

Haze hanging over the Yampa Valley on Thursday is likely from the Divide Fire, which has burned 11,898 acres on Bureau of Land Management land about 32 miles north of Craig.

Over the past week, hazy skies have mostly been attributed to several wildfires in Utah, and National Weather Service meteorologist Dennis Phillips said he “wouldn’t be surprised if some of that is still hanging around.”

Smoke from area wildfires will likely persist into the weekend, when high temperatures are forecast in the upper 80s and lower 90s.

“We’re going to have high pressure kind of just sitting right over us through the weekend,” Phillips said.

The ridge of high pressure will bring some moisture, he said, and Steamboat can expect “typical afternoon shower and thunderstorm activity.”

The storms are expected to bring some cloud cover and increased humidity, which should help with firefighting efforts.

“This is by no means the monsoon, … but we have introduced some moisture,” Phillips said.

To reach Nicole Miller, call 970-871-4206, email or follow her on Twitter @millerna.

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