Hot summer boosts fire danger
Full-on summer is here, and with it comes wildfire season. The fires started in Garfield County last Tuesday, and we can expect to see more in the coming weeks.
The wet spring may have lulled us into thinking we would get a break from wildfire this year, after the terrible year of drought, fire and mud in 2002.
But a month of nonstop hot and dry weather dried out the lush growth of spring. While farmers got a beautiful first cutting of hay in June, a farm worker running a swather in the Dry Park hayfield last Tuesday accidentally sparked a wildfire.
“Obviously this is an excellent example of how dry it is, when a haying machine strikes a rock and starts a fire,” Glenwood Springs fire chief Mike Piper said.
Now, wildfires have also erupted at the Dotsero Crater and near Crane Park on the Flat Tops, and the Brush Creek Fire north of De Beque has grown to 4,500 acres.
Fire will always be a part of our lives in the hot summer months. What is most comforting is knowing that our local fire departments are responsive and organized.
When the Dry Park Fire started, volunteers with the Carbondale and Rural Fire District raced to the scene, assessed the situation, called for additional firefighting resources and immediately began notifying the public about what was going on.
A few hours later, some careful map work made it clear that the fire was actually in the jurisdiction of the Glenwood Springs Rural Fire District. Glenwood firefighters were already on the scene, and command passed smoothly from Carbondale to Glenwood. Nobody left, however, until well after dark that night.
Smooth transitions, and the ease with which firefighters from different agencies meet at a fire and work together, are a credit to the Incident Command system, developed years ago by federal firefighters. It’s become the standard approach among local emergency agencies for the past decade, whether they’re dealing with a car accident or a major conflagration.
Using Incident Command and other methods, our paid and volunteer firefighters and rescuers work hard to keep their skills, equipment and interactive systems in top shape.
The least we can do is follow their requests, which, in these weeks of full-on summer, call on all of us to be extremely careful with sparks and fire.
Heed these words from Chief Piper:
“There is a burn ban on in Garfield County for a reason. It’s extremely dry, and we hope people pay attention to the conditions out there.”
Glenwood Springs Post Independent Editorial Board
Valerie J. Smith, publisher
Heather McGregor, editor
Dennis Webb, news editor
G. Sean Kelly, sports editor
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