5 tips for NOT starting a wildfire on the Fourth of July
A wet spring and early summer means fire danger is low across Colorado’s high country, but that doesn’t mean you should throw caution — or your cigarette butts — to the wind.
This time last year, wildfires were igniting nearly daily across the West, and fire danger was high here in Summit County. Firefighters already had extinguished the Buffalo Mountain fire, which burned within 30 feet of structures and forced the evacuation of nearly 1,400 homes in the Wildernest and Mesa Cortina neighborhoods.
While the cause of the fire is still under investigation, it is believed to be human caused, according to U.S. Forest Service district ranger Bill Jackson.
Research by the National Academy of Sciences shows that humans cause more than 85 percent of all wildfires. The following are some tips for preventing one.
Be cautious with campfires
If you plan to build a campfire, you’re responsible for maintaining and extinguishing the fire before you leave the area.
- Never leave a campfire unattended
- Allow the wood to burn to ash
- Pour water on the fire until the hissing sound stops or use a shovel to bury the fire
- If it’s too hot to touch, it’s too hot to leave
Know the rules about fireworks
All fireworks that leave the ground are prohibited in Colorado, including firecrackers, rockets, Roman candles, cherry bombs and mortars. Purchasing fireworks in another state and transporting them to Colorado is illegal, according to the Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control.
Tips for using legal fireworks:
- Light fireworks one at a time
- Keep a bucket of water and a hose nearby
- Never light them near dry grass or other flammable materials
Park in designated areas
Something as simple as a hot exhaust pipe on dry grass can start a wildfire. It’s a busy week in Summit County, so be sure to park only in designated areas.
- Don’t drive your vehicle, including ATVs, onto dry grass or brush
- Secure chains to avoid throwing sparks
- Ensure vehicles have spark arresters, which are required by law
Be cautious with cigarette butts
Cigarette butts thrown from car windows can start wildfires. Plus, it’s illegal.
- Ensure the cigarette is fully extinguished
- Dispose of cigarette butts only in designated areas
Not sure what’s allowed in your area? Call the local fire protection district to ask.
- Summit Fire & EMS: 970-262-5100
- Red, White & Blue Fire District in Breckenridge: 970-276-3511
- U.S. Forest Service Dillon Ranger District: 970-468-5400
Portions of this article previously published July 3, 2018, in the Steamboat Pilot & Today.