Our view: Restrictions may be lifted, but it’s still dry in the backcountry (editorial)
After spending much of the summer in very tight Stage 2 fire restrictions, Eagle County officials on Friday, Sept. 7, dropped all local fire restrictions.
That was, and is, good news. It’s especially good news as we near hunting season, when hundreds of hunters take to the county’s backcountry areas. The decision was also backed by scientific data indicating that the area had become less fire-prone, thanks to lower temperatures, higher relative humidity and rising moisture levels in grasses and trees.
But when the fire restrictions were dropped, officials cautioned that it’s still very dry. That’s good advice.
Eagle County — along with much of the Western Slope — spent a good part of last week under a “red flag” warning, meaning high temperatures and stiff winds could rapidly fan the flames of virtually any fire.
It’s also true that while temperatures cool and humidity rises as we head into fall, changing seasons mean fuels, especially easy-to-spark grasses, dry out even more.
That’s going to be the case until — we hope, we hope — the snow starts to fall in the next several weeks.
What that means is that while you can have a campfire, you need to pay attention to it.
• Never leave a fire unattended.
• If the wind kicks up, it’s time to snuff that fire.
• Use a lot more water than you think is needed to put out that fire.
And remember, if you start a wildfire and you’re caught and convicted, you’re responsible for the costs of fighting that fire. Those bills can be huge.
The costs of this summer’s Lake Christine fire near Basalt have exceeded $13 million. No one can repay that amount, but even modest payments will be a financial burden on the suspects if they’re convicted.
That’s worth remembering.
Please, folks, be careful with fire. It won’t take much of a mistake to again fill our skies with smoke.
The Vail Daily Editorial Board is Publisher Mark Wurzer, Editor Krista Driscoll, Assistant Editor Ross Leonhart and Business Editor Scott Miller.