County fire Warden urges temporary fire ban 

By Stephanie Wilson 
Posted 3/27/24

WHEATLAND — Spring is officially here; however it comes at the tail end of an unusually dry winter after predictions of abundant snowfall. November and December resulted in less than 12” …

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County fire Warden urges temporary fire ban 


WHEATLAND — Spring is officially here; however it comes at the tail end of an unusually dry winter after predictions of abundant snowfall. November and December resulted in less than 12” of cumulative precipitation, according to Wyoming weather sources. This is not good news for Platte County. 

County Fire Warden Aaron Clark warned existing fuel conditions and predicted weather in the coming weeks will only result in more heat and less precipitation. “We are asking the commissioners to temporarily impose fire restrictions for the next couple of weeks as we are anticipating a dry spell; there is a lot of fuel sitting around and it’s dry,” he said. Fuel conditions refer to vegetation and other combustible materials in a specified area or region. These conditions play a crucial role in determining fire risk and dry weather exacerbates these conditions. 

“There have been two fires along I25 recently; two acres in Glendo and one acre near Chugwater caused by blown tires on the interstate,” Clark explained. 

Additionally, the fire warden commented that because temperatures are still dipping below freezing, fire truck tanks are not currently holding water reserves. This presents additional problems when there is a need to extinguish. 

“Fire conditions are also bad at Camp Guernsey,” he added. “In the High Plains BLM District, there have been nine fires so far in March. While they have all been human caused, it is still unusual. The below-freezing temperatures keep the rural trucks from storing water in the tanks, and there are no air resources until June. We had to bring in air resources from Colorado, and the turnaround was about two hours,” he continued. “I am asking for aggressive fire restrictions until we see a change in the weather and fuel conditions.” 

Concerns about the Irrigation District burning ditches were discussed. Clark stated restrictions may have to be applied case-by-case. “There may have to be some exemptions in place to reduce risk,” Clark said. Someone was burning up near Glendo to get rid of tumbleweeds; things got dicey so we sent an engine out preemptively; and we can do things like that. The Irrigation District did ask if things were really as bad as they looked, and we said, ‘Yes’,” he added. “We may see some improvement in a few weeks when we see some green coming up; and I don’t remember having to put up a restriction in March, but the next few weeks are bringing hotter, drier weather.” 

Commissioner Ian Jolovich responded saying, “As long as you can work with the people who rely on burning as part of their operations, I think the restrictions are fine.” 

Clark commented that Laramie County is so bad, that they are on complete “lockdown” and people are forbidden to even smoke a cigarette there. “I’m concerned that this is getting to be our new normal. It’s very dry out there. Even with the last snow, those in Chugwater were not in favor of a ban. But two days later, the interstate was on fire.” 

Platte County Emergency Management director Tony Krotz said, “We talked to the National Weather Service specifically for Platte County and all of Southeast Wyoming is getting back to near-drought conditions.” 

“Our pastures are crunchy. Camp Guernsey is increasing training. I will come before the commission again in a few weeks and see if we’ve come out of it,” Clark added. 

“As long as you keep working with the Irrigation District; they are the only ones that probably need to be burning anything right now,” commissioner Kayla Mantle added. 

The commissioners passed Resolution #2024-05: Implementing a Fire Ban as of March 19, 2024.