Dry forests and grasslands, low humidity levels, and gusty winds have prompted officials to raise the fire danger in Grand Teton National Park and the surrounding Bridger-Teton National Forest in western Wyoming to "high," a marker that fires can start easily and spread quickly.
While Teton Interagency fire managers didn't take the extra step of raising restrictions on campfires and smoking in the park and forest as did Rocky Mountain National Park officials on Sunday, they urged visitors to be extremely careful with fire.
"Dry vegetation, combined with seasonable temperatures, low humidity and afternoon winds, has increased the potential for fire activity," read a release from the park. "Local residents and visitors alike should exercise an extra measure of caution and practice heightened fire safety at all times—responsible steps include making sure that a campfire is thoroughly extinguished and cold to the touch before leaving a campsite."
So far this year there have been 104 campfires left unattended in the region, officials noted, adding that the fine for abandoning a campfire is $225. Those responsible also can be billed for the costs of putting out any fire that results from an unattended campfire, they said.
Meanwhile, firefighters continue to work on several lightning-caused wildland fires in the Teton Interagency area. The fires are being managed for various objectives, such as improvement of forage conditions for wildlife habitat, and reduction of fuels that could lead to high-risk wildfires.
* The Willow Draw fire in the Buffalo District of the Bridger Teton National Forest is .10 of an acre in size and burning in a Douglas fir tree on a west facing slope 1/2 mile from the boundary of Grand Teton and the Forest. There are no trail or area closures at this time and smoke may be visible.
* Fire personnel are patrolling the 4422-acre Bull Fire, and firefighters and equipment may be added to meet objectives as fire activity increases, or scale back during quiet periods of the fire. If windy and warmer weather continues, fire activity will become more visible from the road and trails in the area. While there are no closures in place, visitors to the area are reminded to use caution when traveling in the vicinity of the Bull Fire and to be aware of high winds and the hazard of falling trees.
* The Crystal fire, located in the Gros Ventre Wilderness in the Jackson Ranger District, near Crystal Slide and 1/2 mile from the Crystal Creek Trail, is 120 acres. Fire managers are staffing the fire for long-term management. The fire is spreading west and into the Hidden Basin area and backing slowly down towards the Crystal Creek Trail. There are no trail or area closures at this time.
* Teton Interagency firefighters are also managing several prescribed fires for resource benefits, the most active of which is the 3530-acre Lower Gros Ventre Fire on the North of Slide Lake, south of the Ditch Creek drainage. While no formal closures, visitors are asked to stay out of the Middle Fork of Ditch Creek area until fire activity subsides and to use caution in the vicinity of a fire area.
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. A high fire danger rating means that fires can start easily and spread quickly.
To report a fire or smoke in either area, call Teton Interagency Dispatch Center at 307-739-3630. For more fire information, please visit the Web at http://gacc.nifc.gov/egbc/dispatch/wy-tdc/index.html or www.tetonfires.com, or follow GrandTetonNPS or BridgerTetonNF on Twitter.