Record-setting temperatures in parts of Wyoming and highs in the 90’s have caused a rapid increase in the fire danger notifications sent out by U.S. Forest Service officials.
On Wednesday, June 16, Teton Interagency fire managers announced the fire danger rating has been elevated to high for the Bridger-Teton National Forest, Grand Teton National Park, National Elk Refuge, and remaining portions of the Teton Interagency Dispatch area. The potential for fire activity has increased due to summer curing of vegetation combined with hot temperatures and dry, windy conditions.
“As the Independence Day holiday approaches, visitors and local residents alike are reminded that fireworks are not permitted in Grand Teton National Park, on the Bridger-Teton National Forest, or within the National Elk Refuge,” officials stated in a news release. “The use of fireworks is illegal in Teton County unless permitted through the special-event process through either the Town of Jackson or Teton County. These fireworks regulations play a critical role in fire prevention.”
Triple-digit temperatures peppered the state in locales such as Greybull, Powell, Worland and others.
In Star Valley there were consecutive days over 90 degrees which have contributed to rapidly drying out area growth.
“A high fire danger rating means fires can start easily and spread quickly,” the release continued. “Unattended campfires and brush fires are likely to escape and can become serious and difficult to control. When determining fire danger, fire managers use several indicators such as the moisture content of grasses, shrubs, and trees; projected weather conditions including temperatures and possible wind events; the ability of fire to spread after ignition; and availability of firefighting resources across the county.”
Grasses and sagebrush in the area may still look green, but the moisture content is changing rapidly allowing them to carry fire. Dead and down logs and branches in forested areas are already dry and are easily combustible. The most recent precipitation was May 21-23 and the effects of that are long gone. The weather forecast indicates no significant precipitation in the next 10 days. All vegetation will dry and cure as temperatures remain hot and windy conditions exist.
In areas where campfires are allowed, fires should never be unattended and must be completely extinguished. The charred remains of a campfire must be repeatedly doused with water and stirred into the campfire ring in order to be completely extinguished. All embers and logs should be broken up. Campers should “cold trail” the remains of the fire, which refers to carefully placing the back of your hand near the ashes and campfire debris to feel for any remaining heat before leaving the site.