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  • Dylan Anderson

Northwest Colorado has seen 18 fire starts in the last week, signaling fire season is here

Two fires have been reported in North Routt, one that burned nearly 9 acres and another reported on Saturday that was contained after burning just a quarter-acre.

A wildland fire was reported in North Routt around 3:30 p.m. on Saturday was one of 18 fires that have been reported in Northwest Colorado in the last week, according to data from Craig Interagency Dispatch Center.


That fire, dubbed the Island Fire, was updated as contained on Sunday, having burned just over a quarter acre. Another fire, given the moniker the Spring Fire, to the north of Steamboat Springs on July 24 eventually burned about 8.7 acres, before it was deemed contained.

“It was up near the Elk Park Trailhead, fairly close to wilderness,” said Aaron Voos, spokesperson for the Routt-Medicine Bow National Forest about the Spring Fire. “It was a real small fire to start and they thought they had it all done, and then all of a sudden they found another spot from it that was in some thicker timber, so they had a little bit more work to do.”


On July 27 the West Routt Fire Protection District responded to a tree that had been struck by lightning in Yampa River State Park, opting to cut it down to ensure it didn’t spread beyond that tree.


“Thankfully, this was the only thing that caught fire,” the district wrote in a post on Facebook about the incident.

Of the 18 fire starts reported within the service area of Craig Interagency Dispatch, 12 of them have been kept under a half-acre in size, and only one has exceeded 10 acres. Craig Dispatch’s coverage area includes parts of Routt, Moffat, Rio Blanco, Jackson and Grand counties.


Fire Danger is considered High across Routt County, which means all fine, dead fuels ignite readily and fires start easily from most causes. Fires left unattended, such as campfires or brush fires, are likely to escape in these conditions, and any start is likely to spread easily and can become difficult to control if they are not put out while still small.


There are currently no fire restrictions in place, though members of various fire districts and land management agencies in Routt County gather each Monday to assess if any need to be put in place.


Voos said it is pretty typical to see a handful of fire starts in the forest this time of year, whether they are caused by lightning or some kind of human cause. At this time, the forest service isn’t seeing conditions that would warrant fire restrictions in parts of the forest in Routt County, but Voos said it is being reassessed as the summer progresses.


“We’re keeping an eye on it, so that if it does get close we’re ready to work with our partners and do whatever it is we need to do,” Voos said. “Look into what the forecast looks like, then see if there’s any sort of restrictions that are warranted.”


Across Colorado, there are six fires currently burning, according to InciWeb, a database used to track fires across the country. Two of those — both near the state’s southern boarder — are 100% contained and three more are more than 70% contained.


The Lowline Fire, which is burning in the Gunnison National Forest north of Gunnison is the largest in the state at nearly 1,300 acres burned. It is just 15% contained, as of Sunday and it has led to evacuation orders.


The Oak Creek Fire Protection District sent a water tender and two wildland firefighters to help fight the fast-growing fire on Friday. That deployment comes as some of the district’s other crews are returning from deployments in Southern Colorado and in Bakersfield, California.


“This fire is a reminder to all of us here at home that fire season has started,” the district wrote on its Facebook page. “Fire danger in our area is now at high. Please be careful. If you see smoke, do not hesitate to call 911 to report it.”


Top Photo Caption: A sign along Routt County Road 129 in Clark warns folks that fire danger is high in North Routt on Sunday, as it is across most parts of Routt County. (Dylan Anderson/The Yampa Valley Bugle)


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