Wildfire concerns growing

Drier weather prompts call for burn ban

By Sarah Pridgeon

 

Fire restrictions are expected to go into effect next week, says Fire Chief Gari Gill, thanks to a steady increase in the size and number of fires across the county. The county has seen a total of 22 incidents during the month of July, he says, with 17 of those fires igniting during the last week.

“Most of them have been small, but they’re growing larger as we go along,” says Gill.

“They’ve been occurring all over the county. We’ve been just about everywhere.”

Of the 17 fires, the smallest consumed less than one tenth of an acre. The largest was reported north of New Haven and reached 17.2 acres in size.

All fires are currently under control, says the Fire Chief.

The majority of the blazes were caused by lightning strikes, but four were the result of haying equipment issues. A tractor and baler was lost at one haying equipment fire and a single baler was destroyed at another, says Gill, and loss of hay was reported for all four incidents.

No major damage has been caused by fire anywhere in the county so far this summer, he adds, but it’s likely that conditions will worsen as the season continues.

“The grass and weeds have all matured and it does not take much for them to burn,” says the Fire Chief.

“The monsoons are in Colorado, so we will be picking up lightning storms in northern Wyoming.”

In anticipation of worsening conditions, Gill will be asking the County Commissioners to authorize a county-wide burn ban on August 4, effective immediately. The restrictions will remain in place until October 15, or until they are lifted.

“I urge everyone to use extreme caution burning garbage and to not try to burn large piles of debris,” says Gill.

During the ban, fireworks will be completely prohibited and garbage burns must be restricted to the hours of 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. Precautions should be taken when welding and for all burning activities, says the Fire Chief.