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Wildfire dangers present

Warm, dry conditions increase potential for late-season wildfires

By JOSH NICHOLS
Daily Press writer
The peak fire season in Northwest Colorado has been over for months but the danger is far from gone.
Officials have warned that because of the unusually dry and warm weather conditions this fall, the potential for fire still exists.
“We want the public to be aware that fires are still possible this late in the year,” said Fire Management Officer Mike Rieser. “The threat of a fire turning into a large incident is offset by shorter days and longer, cooler nights, but it’s never considered out of the question until you have a season ending event, like snow.”
Lynn Barclay, the fire mitigation education specialist, said July is peak fire season, and the risk is not as high now as it was then, but the risk is definitely higher this November than other Novembers.
“The combination of higher-than-normal temperatures and lower precipitation means area vegetation is still able to burn,” she said.
Because it is so late in the year, she said, many crews brought into the area for peak fire season have left.
“Since the traditional fire season is over, many fire crews have disbanded for the winter or are on fire assignments in the southeast, leaving the west with fewer reserves,” she said.
One example is the Craig Hot Shots, a 20-person crew brought to the area for the first time this summer to fight fires, Barclay said, most of whom have now left.
“We’re not trying to alarm the community, but we want people to realize the potential is still there,” she said.
The Craig Interagency Fire Dispatch Center offered several outdoor fire safety tips :
Discard cigarettes in ashtrays.
Never leave any fire unattended.
Ensure spark arresters are in operable condition on chainsaws, off-highway vehicles and motorcycles.
Clear areas of debris before welding or smoking.