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Wildland Fire Team monitoring current conditions

The Mesa County Sheriff’s Office has its own fire response unit
Updated: Jun. 21, 2021 at 6:51 PM MDT
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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KJCT) - The Western Slope is already seeing an active fire season. Conditions in many parts of the region have authorities on the alert for further fire activity.

According to the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office, their Wildland Fire Team is monitoring conditions in the area. Between the high winds, dry air, lightning activity, and drought, conditions are perfect for fires to get out of hand. According to MCSO spokeswoman Megan Terlecky, “We’re experiencing some high fire danger. We have a crew ready to go just in case a fire does pop up, we’re able to respond very quickly and immediately start suppression efforts.”

The Wildland Fire Team mostly responds to fires in unincorporated parts of Mesa County. For example, the team was on hand at the Smith Gulch fire near De Beque this past weekend. The Bureau of Land Management also takes an active role in suppressing fires in Western Colorado. Although the Wildland Fire Team is not currently responding to the Oil Springs fire in Rio Blanco County, they are keeping tabs on that situation as it develops. Sometimes, fire crews will collaborate across state lines even when extra resources are needed.

Terlecky explained that, “How fire suppression works in the United States is it’s a mutual effort. Agencies work together. If a fire gets large enough to exceed the capacity of the agency in which the fire is located, they’ll ask for help, and they’re ordering resources. When it comes to fire season, nobody is alone. Everybody works together.”

The sheriff’s office is asking the public to be extra careful when doing any activity that can cause a fire given the current situation. Natural causes of fires are also a concern.

Meteorologist Brad Miller shared his insight regarding the role of lightning in fire activity. “Lightning obviously one of the biggest concerns we have right now because it’s been so dry. And every time to get a little bit of moisture in here, you’ll get thunderstorms to form, but it’s still so dry at the surface, that you don’t actually get any rain to come from these, lightning to strike, very easy for it start a fire.”

Lightning is of particular concern at this time. According to the Rio Blanco County Sheriff’s office, lightning caused the Oil Springs fire, which is currently burning about 7,183 acres.

Common fire starters also include dragging trailer chains, discarded cigarettes, car exhausts, and campfire embers.

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