Two Teton Interagency Fire engine crews responded to a report of a half-acre fire on the northern boundary of the National Elk Refuge at approximately 8:30 pm on Thursday, July 11. Fire investigators are following a lead that the source of ignition may have been fireworks discharged from the Gros Ventre Campground that lies just across the Gros Ventre River in Grand Teton National Park.
Teton Interagency Dispatch Center received notice of the Gros Ventre Fire and summoned initial attack resources to respond. A Grand Teton National Park ranger assisted in locating the best access route to the fire, which was not near park or refuge roads. Despite high humidity and cool evening temperatures, the Gros Ventre Fire burned quickly through dry grass and sagebrush. A wetting rain on Thursday evening helped crews contain the fire shortly after 10:00 pm. Teton Interagency Fire manager Mack McFarland described the fire behavior as more active than expected for this time of year. “Even with rain and high humidity last night, it was notable for so early in our fire season.”
This marks the first significant fire incident for the 2013 season, and serves as a reminder that vegetation is becoming much dryer across the greater Jackson Hole area as summer temperatures increase and humidity decreases. Fire danger is currently rated as moderate, but nearby areas, including Yellowstone National Park, have increased to a high fire danger rating. The National Weather Service is predicting the Jackson area may see temperatures near 90 degrees by next week.
Fireworks are prohibited in Grand Teton National Park, the National Elk Refuge, the Bridger-Teton National Forest, across Teton and Sublette counties, and on Wyoming state lands. It is critical that everyone comply with this regulation, especially given the dry conditions and high temperatures throughout Jackson Hole.
Along with the fireworks prohibition on public and county lands, campers are reminded that unattended or abandoned campfires can easily escalate into wildfires. Campers and day users should never leave a fire unattended and always have a shovel on hand and a water bucket ready for use. All campfires must be completely extinguished before leaving a site by wetting and stirring the wood and ashes until they are cold to the touch.
With the already active fire season across the country, local residents and visitors should exercise extra caution and practice heightened fire safety at all times. Area residents and visitors are requested to report a fire or smoke by calling 911 or Teton Interagency Dispatch Center at 307.739.3630.
For more fire information, please visit www.tetonfires.com.