Teton County followed federal land managers Tuesday in enacting restrictions that ban open fires, with exceptions, in the unincorporated parts of the county.
Jackson Hole Fire/EMS Chief Brady Hansen, who serves as the Teton County Fire Warden, told the Teton County Board of County Commissioners this is early.
“It's, in any recent memory, the earliest that the fire warden has ever proposed going into restrictions,” Hansen said, adding that other Wyoming counties are doing the same.
Hansen said that Sublette, Sweetwater, Lincoln and Park Counties were all planning to enact fire restrictions this week, and Uinta and Fremont County have already done so.
The restrictions put in place Tuesday with commissioners' unanimous vote are called "partial fire closures."
"Going into fire restrictions will limit what kind of burning we can allow," Hansen said. "It's not a full closure in that that there are some exemptions."
The fire chief said the county has not implemented a full closure, in anybody's memory, for at least 20 years.
All of Teton County is experiencing at least moderate drought, according to the National Integrated Dought Information System. 73% of the county experiencing severe drought, and concerns about fire danger have been high for months.
The Bridger-Teton National Forest, which earlier in July joined Grand Teton National Park and the National Elk Refuge to enact fire restrictions, has found more abandoned campfires than usual in its campsites this season. There’s also been little precipitation, and hot, dry temperatures are predicted for the foreseeable future.
In a staff report, Hansen also said that local firefighting resources had been drawn down to fight fires elsewhere.
The stage one restrictions generally prohibit open fires. But exceptions, listed in the sidebar to this article, allow certain types of burning. Among other things, they allow campfires within an established fire ring at an established campground, if there is “a minimum of 15 feet cleared radius of burnable materials” surrounding the blaze.
Charcoal grills are allowed as are “acetylene cutting torches, electric arc welders, or metal grinding” so long as that same 15-foot radius is maintained.