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Teton region fire danger moves to Very High

Moving closer to the traditional fire season, Teton Interagency Fire managers will elevate the region’s fire danger to “very high” Thursday on both the Bridger-Teton National Forest and in Grand Teton National Park. Officials said recent hot temperatures, low humidity and windy conditions have increased the potential for intense fire activity.

The “very high” rating means fires can start easily, spread quickly, and burn intensely.

The ratings are determined by several factors including an evaluation of moisture content in grasses, shrubs, and trees, projected weather conditions, the overall ability of fire to spread after ignition, and the availability of fire fighting resources.

Partial Fire Restrictions remain in effect for both the Bridger – Teton National Forest and Grand Teton National Park. Partial fire restrictions include:

• Lighting, building, maintaining, attending or using a fire, campfire, barbecue or grill is allowed only at designated recreation sites such as established campgrounds or picnic areas. Use of portable stoves and lanterns using gas, jellied petroleum or pressurized liquid fuel, or use of a fully enclosed sheepherder type stove with a spark arrester screen is permitted.

• Smoking is allowed only in an enclosed vehicle, building (unless otherwise prohibited), developed recreation site, or while in an area at least three feet in diameter that is barren or cleared of all flammable materials (i.e. parking lots, developed campsites, or locations surrounded by water).

• Operating a chainsaw is prohibited in national parks. Operating a chainsaw on national forest lands is permitted only when equipped with a USDA or SAE approved spark arrester that is properly installed and in effective working order. Operators must also carry a fire extinguisher and a shovel.

• Discharge of fireworks and use of explosives requiring blasting caps are prohibited.

• Welding is prohibited in national parks. For national forest locations, welding or operating acetylene or other torch with open flame is only allowed in cleared areas of at least 10 feet in diameter. A fire extinguisher must be at the location.

Violation of these prohibitions is punishable by a fine of up to $5,000 for an individual or $10,000 for an organization, and/or by imprisonment for more than six months.

Unattended or abandoned campfires can quickly escalate into wildfires, and it is extremely important that all campfires are completely extinguished and cold to the touch before campers leave their site. Visitors should never leave a fire unattended, and should prepare for the unexpected by having a water bucket and shovel on hand and ready to use.

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