|At least two spot forest fires in southern Fremont County near Texas Creek last week were successfully contained after burning less than three acres. The fires prompted the Wet Mountain Fire Protection District to be placed on standby according to Fire Chief David Tonsing.
“The fires were most likely started by lightning, we have been seeing a lot of dry lightning strikes recently,” Tonsing noted. It was one year ago on July 8, that the 16,754 acre Hayden Pass fire started due to a lighting strike high in Sangre de Cristo Mountains just north of the Custer County Line. The three county inter-government organization that includes Custer, Fremont, and Pueblo, known as 3-Com works together to pool resources in case of fires “Every seven years we review and sign an inter-county agreement that allows us, or our neighbors, to provide assistance if needed. When the fire was originally reported we were placed on standby to help if needed,” Tonsing explained. “Fortunately the fire was contained quickly.”
Fuels in the region have been drying out fast in peak summer temperatures. “Everyday Fire Marshal Shannon Byerly and I talk to discuss conditions. If we feel it is becoming dangerous, we will ask the commissioners to place a fire ban on the county,” he said.
In Custer County, the Fire Marshall has the authority to impose day-long fire bans, but it requires a motion by the commissioners to institute longer bans.
“What I ask is that people use common sense, build fires in stone or metal lined pits, and remember, if you have a wood-fired smoker, it needs to have a spark arrestor in place,” the Fire Chief concluded.
A summer monsoon season that started Tuesday afternoon is bringing moisture to Custer County. According to the National Weather Service in Pueblo, daily rain and thunderstorms are likely over the next few weeks.