Shadow Mountain Fire

Firefighter Ron Steffens walks along the perimeter of the Antelope Fire in June 2014. The 2014 blaze on Shadow Mountain was believed to have been caused by an abandoned campfire. Through Wednesday, 21 abandoned campfires were reported in Teton Interagency Fire's district, most on the Bridger-Teton National Forest. 

More people than ever visited Jackson Hole in late May and early June, and those who spent their stay camping were pretty crummy about extinguishing their fires.

The Bridger-Teton National Forest is reporting that there were 21 abandoned campfires documented in the area in the weeks leading up to this past Wednesday. That’s a lot, considering that there were only seven abandoned fires detected through June 2 during 2020 and just three during the same pre-COVID-19 period in 2019.

“People just aren’t thinking of fire safety at this time of year,” Bridger-Teton spokeswoman Mary Cernicek said in a news release. “It’s like folks assume because it’s spring they don’t need to worry about putting out their campfires.”

“It is early,” she added, “but it only takes a couple of days of warm dry weather to dry things out.”

None of the still-hot fires found have sparked wildfires so far, but some have escaped their rings.

Best practices are to douse any campfire with water until it’s cold to the touch. Failing to do so leaves lingering embers at the whims of weather, and last fall there were a spate of abandoned hunter warming fires that sparked small wildfires.

Vegetation in Teton Interagency Fire’s district is slightly wetter than average for this point in the summer, according to an index firefighters monitor called an “energy release component.” But most of Teton County is in a moderate drought, and the two-week forecast calls for minimal precipitation.

So far there have been three wildfires found and extinguished in the region, according to TetonFires.com. Two were located on the Bridger-Teton’s Pinedale Ranger District, and the causes of both are under investigation. A third, single-tree fire was nearer to Jackson. The Rock Creek Fire was called in by a Munger Mountain mountain biker back on May 20, and was the first documented lightning-sparked fire of 2021.

Contact Mike Koshmrl at 732-7067 or env@jhnewsandguide.com.

Mike has reported on the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem's wildlife, wildlands and the agencies that manage them since 2012. A native Minnesotan, he arrived in the West to study environmental journalism at the University of Colorado.

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