Weather makes weekend busy for firefighters | CraigDailyPress.com

Weather makes weekend busy for firefighters

Jerry Martin

High winds and dry conditions caused several prescribed fires to burn out of control over the weekend, fire officials reported Monday.

Captain Troy Hampton of Craig Fire/Rescue said firefighters were called to contain three fires Saturday and Sunday resulting from controlled burns in area ditches that spread past predetermined boundaries.

"There were two on (Colorado) Highway 13 and one … on highway 394," Hampton said.

A Bureau of Land Management fire crew contained an additional fire on Colorado Highway 13 that started after a recreational vehicle towing a car sustained a blown tire.

Firefighters neutralized all fires and no major damage was sustained, Hampton said.

While fires can happen any time, Craig Fire/Rescue Chief Bill Johnston said so much activity this early in the year is unusual.

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"This is abnormal this early," he said. "It happens mostly in July, August, September."

Johnston said low presence of moisture throughout the winter has created ideal wildfire conditions. He urged anyone planning an outdoor burn of any kind to use caution and common sense.

"It's illegal to burn inside the city limits, that's number one," Johnston said. "Number two, outside the city limits within the fire district I would ask anyone that is burning to look at the weather predictions, especially the wind. That's what's getting us right now. It's calm in the morning and by the afternoon, the wind picks up and takes the fire away from where they wanted it to be."

BLM plans controlled burn in Moffat County

The BLM White River Field Office is planning a 525-acre prescribed burn for Tuesday in western Moffat County, according to a BLM news release.

The burn, called the Badger Flat project, will take place in an area about 12 miles northwest of Elk Springs on Moffat County Road 14. The project is expected to last up to four days depending on weather and fuel conditions, according to the release.

"The purpose of the prescribed burn is to restore suitable habitat for Northern Sage Grouse by reducing pinyon/juniper woodland encroachment into sagebrush communities," BLM stated in the release. "It will also reduce the safety risk to responding firefighters by decreasing the amount of live and dead fuel accumulation which will lower intensity in the event of a wildfire."

Smoke will be visible from local county roads during active burn periods. Weather and fuel moisture conditions will be closely monitored and burns will only be initiated if conditions are ideal for safe and effective fires, according to the release.

As with every BLM prescribed burn, the Badger Flat project follows a detailed plan developed in advance with pre-determined parameters and has the required applicable smoke permits, the release stated.

For more information, call the Little Snake Field Office at (970) 878-3800.

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