Fire Danger In Teton County “Very High”
Teton Interagency Fire managers have elevated the fire danger to Very High for both the Bridger-Teton National Forest and Grand Teton National Park as of Tuesday, July 3. Recent hot temperatures, low humidity and windy conditions have increased the potential for intense fire activity. Local residents and visitors alike should exercise an extra measure of caution and practice heightened fire safety at all times.
When determining fire danger ratings, fire officials evaluate several factors, 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 the availability of fire-fighting resources. A fire danger rating of Very High means that fires can start easily, spread quickly and burn intensely.
Partial Fire Restrictions are in effect for both the Bridger – Teton National Forest and Grand Teton National Park. Partial fire restrictions include:
- Lighting, building, maintaining, attending or using a fire, campfire, barbecue or grill is allowed only at designated recreation sites such as established campgrounds or picnic areas. Use of portable stoves and lanterns using gas, jellied petroleum or pressurized liquid fuel, or use of a fully enclosed sheepherder type stove with a spark arrester screen is permitted.
- Smoking is allowed only in an enclosed vehicle, building (unless otherwise prohibited), developed recreation site, or while in an area at least three feet in diameter that is barren or cleared of all flammable materials (i.e. parking lots, developed campsites, or locations surrounded by water).
- Operating a chainsaw is prohibited in national parks. Operating a chainsaw on national forest lands is permitted only when equipped with a USDA or SAE approved spark arrester that is properly installed and in effective working order. Operators must also carry a fire extinguisher and a shovel.
- Discharge of fireworks and use of explosives requiring blasting caps are prohibited.
- Welding is prohibited in national parks. For national forest locations, welding or operating acetylene or other torch with open flame is only allowed in cleared areas of at least 10 feet in diameter. A fire extinguisher must be at the location.
Violation of these prohibitions is punishable by a fine of up to $5,000 for an individual or $10,000 for an organization, and/or by imprisonment for more than six months.
The Teton Interagency Fire area typically does not reach Very High fire danger this early in the season. Several factors led to the early rise in fire danger, including a below normal snow pack with an early melt, unseasonably warm temperatures in April and May, and a lack of rainfall so far in June. This year is tracking similar to 2007, when the area was elevated to High fire danger on June 25, Very High fire danger on July 1, and Extreme fire danger on July 5. The Horse Creek Fire started June 21, 2007 and burned 8,590 acres in the Big Piney District of the Bridger-Teton National Forest.
Unattended or abandoned campfires can quickly escalate into wildfires, and it is extremely important that all campfires are completely extinguished and cold to the touch before campers leave their site. Visitors should never leave a fire unattended, and should prepare for the unexpected by having a water bucket and shovel on hand and ready to use.
(Information Courtesy of the Bridger Teton National Forest)