When temperatures soared to triple digits in June, concern spiked among local residents. In a place where freezing weather can linger into May, it’s alarming to see 100-degree days so early in …
When temperatures soared to triple digits in June, concern spiked among local residents. In a place where freezing weather can linger into May, it’s alarming to see 100-degree days so early in the summer.
What drew more concern was a human-caused wildfire outside of Clark that quickly spread toward Red Lodge, Montana, growing from 2,000 acres to over 21,000 within a day.
While the smoke plume from the Robertson Draw Fire has since dissipated, the threat of fire danger this summer remains high.
“I’ve never seen these kind of fire conditions and this active, extreme fire behavior in June, as long as I’ve been around it,” Deputy Park County Fire Warden Sam Wilde said last week. “And I think that’s an indicator of where we’re at this summer and what Mother Nature has done to us.”
Though we cannot control the hot, dry conditions, we can take steps to help prevent fires this summer.
As of Monday, a fire ban is in place in Park County, so fireworks and all outdoor open fires are prohibited unless they meet an exemption. Portable stoves, lanterns and charcoal fires within enclosed grills are still allowed, as are agricultural burns. Flames within a fire ring must be surrounded by 15 feet of cleared space. Residents who burn their trash can do so between 6 p.m. and 8 a.m. inside containers equipped with spark arresters and located within 15 feet of cleared space.
Also effective Monday, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department banned open fires on all Game and Fish Commission-owned and administered lands within Park County. Meanwhile, stage 1 fire restrictions also are in place on BLM land throughout the Big Horn Basin as well as the Shoshone National Forest and Yellowstone National Park.
The local fire restrictions aren’t an annual occurrence, but only happen when conditions warrant such restrictions. The last time Park County commissioners implemented a fire ban was in 2016. During that dry summer, a blaze engulfed a home on the North Fork, while another wildfire destroyed a home on Road 2AB. With similar conditions this summer, we hope major fires can be prevented.
In recent weeks, there have already been two significant house fires in the Powell area. The most recent came Saturday, when a trailer in Scott’s Granite Park was destroyed by a fire. It was a tragic reminder of how dangerous fire can be — and how quickly things can escalate.
While there was concern about fireworks going into the Fourth of July, the holiday thankfully stayed pretty quiet for firemen in Powell and Cody.
“Everybody was, evidently, more cautious,” Powell Fire Chief Dustin Dicks said Monday.
With more high temps and dry conditions likely ahead in July and August, we encourage residents to continue exercising caution.