TETON COUNTY, Wyo. - The fire danger in much of western Wyoming and has been lowered to "very high."
Teton interagency fire managers made the change for the Bridger-Teton National Forest, Grand Teton National Park and Teton County on Thursday after moderate rain fell across the area earlier in the week.
But the region is still not in the clear.
Fire officials warn that western Wyoming is still very dry and unseasonably warm. Although earlier season rains promoted plant growth, the grasses are now frost-cured and very susceptible to fire.
A very high fire danger rating means that fires start easily from all causes, spread rapidly and intensify quickly. Spot fires are a constant danger, according to a news release.
When determining fire danger ratings, fire managers use several indices 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 firefighting resources across the country. Fire managers will re-evaluate the fire danger rating and restrictions as conditions change.
Hunters and other recreationists should be aware that partial fire restrictions remain in effect for the Bridger-Teton National Forest and Grand Teton National Park. 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.
Partial fire restrictions include the following:
- 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 3 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 an 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.
Teton County is also implementing fire restrictions, which are available at http://www.tetonwyo.org/fire.
To report a fire or smoke, call Teton Interagency Dispatch Center at (307) 739.3630 or 911. For fire restriction information, see http://gacc.nifc.gov/egbc/dispatch/wy-tdc/index.html or http://www.tetonfires.com.