Fire chief: Threat of wildfire remains extreme | AspenTimes.com

Fire chief: Threat of wildfire remains extreme

BASALT – The U.S. Forest Service and Roaring Fork Valley firefighters are warning that recent rains haven’t reduced the high fire danger.

Basalt Fire Chief Scott Thompson told the Basalt Town Council this week conditions remain the “worst” for wildfire that he has witnessed in 30 years of firefighting in the town.

“Our problem’s not over,” he said. “It’s not going to be over until fall. That’s the bottom line.”

The Basalt Fire Department is sending out daily patrols on a brush truck, a special fire engine for battling wildland fires. The truck roams high-risk areas, such as Missouri Heights, when dry lightning storms roll through. The concept is to get firefighters attacking a blaze instantly.

“Everywhere I go in town, people are excited to see that firetruck roaming around,” Thompson said.

Unfortunately, not everyone is heeding the message that conditions remain dangerous. Two groups were recently “caught” by the Forest Service shooting fireworks up the Fryingpan Valley, according to Thompson.

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The Forest Service announced Thursday that Stage II fire restrictions remain in place in the Upper Colorado River Fire Management Unit. That means no campfires are allowed anywhere on public lands in Pitkin, Garfield, Eagle, Summit and Mesa counties.

“We can expect a series of short duration rain events in the coming days. In a normal summer, one or two of these events would significantly reduce the fire danger and might even take us out of the fire seasons,” said Bill Hahnenberg, a fire management officer for the unit. “Given the severity of drought conditions going into this summer, we need several monsoon events to change current conditions.”

scondon@aspentimes.com