Fire danger creeping up in Eagle County | VailDaily.com
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Fire danger creeping up in Eagle County

Alex Miller
AP photoA slurry bomber lays down a trail of fire retardant behind a home near the town of Beulah on Monday as firefighters continue to battle the Mason Gulch Wildfire. The fire, fueled by high winds, forced the evacuation of Beulah on Sunday.
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EAGLE COUNTY – A wet spring and early summer has kept fire danger minimal so far this season, but that is quickly changing, fire experts say.”We don’t have any restrictions in place right now, but we think we’re about to start having those discussions, probably in the next few days,” said Ross Wilmore, a fire management officer with the Upper Colorado Interagency Fire Management Unit.Wilmore said “fine fuels,” such as grasses, are still fairly moist above about 7,000 feet, but those at lower elevations – westward from about Wolcott – are drying out quickly. Larger fuels such as branches are dry across the board, he said.Three wildland fires are currently burning in Colorado, including one in southern Colorado that’s consumed nearly 12,000 acres. With forecasts calling for warm and dry weather with occasional lightning over the next week, Wilmore said fire season is upon us.”The moisture of spring delayed the onset of fire season, but it also produced a flush of the fine fuels like grasses that are drying out,’ he said. “That’s adding to the fine-fuel load, and many fires are driven by that.”

Wilmore said the first restriction officials will look at would prohibit open fires unless they’re in a campfire ring in a developed campground. Smoking would also be limited to vehicles and bare areas. In a Stage 2 restriction, all open flames would be banned, although gas stoves would still be allowed. Fireworks, Wilmore said, are always restricted. “Absolutely people should be careful,” he said. “It’s been warm and dry, and things are drying out. We’re definitely in fire season.” =========================================Fires in ColoradoMason (Pike-San Isabel National Forest and Grasslands): 11,700 acres at 30 percent contained. This fire is located two miles south of Wetmore. The communities of Beulah, Bears Head Ranch, Siloam Road subdivision and the Billingsly Ranch were evacuated. Greenwood subdivision residents were allowed to return to their homes. Containment efforts are hampered due to steep and broken terrain, and dry brush.Pack Trail (White River Field Office, Bureau of Land Management): 300 acres. Lightning-caused wildland fire 10 miles west of Meeker.

Rio Blanco (San Juan National Forest): 1,182 acres. A lightning-caused wildland fire 10 miles southeast of Pagosa Springs.-National Interagency Fire CenterFire infoTo check on the latest fire conditions and restrictions, go online at fs.fed.us./r2/fire/gjc/restrictions or check with the local ranger district at 328-6388.



=========Alex Miller can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 615, or amiller@vaildaily.com.Vail Daily, Vail, Colorado


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