Smokey skies not from nearby fires | SteamboatToday.com
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Smokey skies not from nearby fires

Susan Cunningham

The smoke filling Routt County skies has traveled a long way.

Recent smoky, hazy skies are not from nearby fires, but from fires in other states, officials said Wednesday.

One source of smoke in the county probably is a 150-acre-and-growing wildfire southeast of Price, Utah, said Lynn Barclay, fire education specialist with the Craig Interagency Dispatch.

The smoke also might be from large fires burning in Washington and Alaska, as a jet stream sagging southward could be carrying it into Wyoming and Colorado.

Smoke has been reported in spots across Routt County, especially in the Oak Creek area, in the past few days, Barclay said.

This year, Northwest Colorado’s fire season has been relatively uneventful, Barclay said. Still, fuel conditions are being monitored on a daily basis, and fire officials are reminding residents and visitors to take caution when using fire.

Rains throughout the summer have helped prevent large fires but do not put a big dent in overall drought the area is experiencing.

“The rains that we’re getting are kind of a short-term fix for us,” she said.

After a rain, water is absorbed quickly by small plants and grasses, which then become more resistant to fire. But a sunny, windy day can suck out that moisture quickly, making big fires a possibility.

People who conduct agricultural burns or start campfires should pay close attention to winds. On a windy day, there always is a chance an ember can be picked up and start a fire.

Escaped campfires are one of the most common types of human-caused wildfires in Northwest Colorado, Barclay said.

“Lots of people don’t understand what it takes to adequately put a fire out,” she said.

Putting rocks over a fire, or simply pouring water on it is not enough, she said. Instead, people should alternate shoveling dirt and pouring water on the fire to ensure it will not restart.

With fall quickly approaching, the cooler, shorter days are expected to decrease fire danger. However, fall also means that some plants and trees die or become dormant, which means drier fuels.

Especially during hunting season, people need to remember that fuels can be dry and that fire should be used carefully, Barclay said.

— To reach Susan Bacon, call 871-4203

or e-mail sbacon@steamboatpilot.com


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