San Juan National Forest fire officials warn people in Southwest Colorado that continued dry weather conditions have heightened the fire danger in the area.
In late November, a man on private property, north of Durango adjacent to National Forest lands near Electra Lake, was target-shooting with incendiary ammunition, and started a fire that quickly grew to 60 acres. Fuel moistures have become drier since then.
“Although it’s winter, we are extremely dry, and there is potential for fire activity because of our prolonged lack of moisture,” Richard Bustamante, San Juan National Forest Fire Management Officer, said in a news release. “Dry grasses are very flammable right now and can act as a carrier fuel to quickly spread a fire even though days are short and nights are cold.”
Forest officials urge the public to follow fire-safety tips:
All who plan to have open fires outside should clear all burnable material from the area, and keep a bucket of water, shovel and other means of extinguishing fires accessible.Never leave a fire unattended. When putting out a fire, stir water and dirt into the coals until they are cool to the touch and no longer producing smoke. Do not dump hot coals onto vegetation or flammable surfaces.Never litter cigarette butts out the car window. Extinguish cigarettes only in areas free of vegetation or debris.Do not park hot cars or recreational vehicles on dry vegetation. Exhaust systems can ignite flammable materials underneath vehicles.Off-road vehicles and chainsaws should be equipped with approved and updated spark arresters.Never light off fireworks, which, including sparklers, are illegal within National Forest boundaries. Tracer bullets and exploding targets are also illegal within the National Forest system.For more information, visit www.fs.usda.gov/sanjuan.