A couple of weeks of sunny skies and scant precipitation have cured vegetation enough that the fire danger has been bumped to high for the first time in 2020.
The elevated danger has not triggered campfire restrictions. But Teton Interagency Fire’s advisement this week means that wildfires can start easily from most causes, and that grasses and forest duff will ignite readily in the Bridger-Teton National Forest, Grand Teton National Park, National Elk Refuge and other parts of the Teton Interagency Dispatch area.
High fire dangers are common in the heart of the typical wildfire season in Jackson Hole. Wildfire managers use several indicators to make the determination, including weather and wind forecasts, the moisture content of vegetation and the availability of firefighting resources around the country.
An index that Teton Interagency Fire uses to gauge fire danger in different parts of the forest is called the “energy release component.” An average of the gauge readings from across the Bridger-Teton National Forest shows that vegetation has dried out substantially since late June, and is now rated in the low 40s — which is squarely in the “high” fire danger range. The dryness is persistent across the forest, with little variation between the Teton, Wind River and Wyoming range gauges.
Forest officials are urging people to be vigilant with their campfires.
“In areas where campfires are allowed, fires should never be unattended and must be completely extinguished,” a Bridger-Teton National Forest press release said. “The charred remains of a campfire must be repeatedly doused with water and stirred into the campfire ring in order to be completely extinguished.”
There has been just a single wildfire logged to date on TetonFire.com. That incident, the Flat Creek 2 Fire, was located 7 miles north of Jackson and burned a tenth of an acre after an abandoned campfire ran outside its ring in late June.