County fire ban lifted

On the recommendation of County Fire Warden Brent Godfrey, the Big Horn County Commissioners voted Tuesday to lift the partial fire ban.

Godfrey said he has been approached by Lovell Fire Chief Jim Minchow, other Lovell officials and some residents asking for the ban to be lifted.

He said the rest of the state is still seeing plenty of fire activity, including Natrona County and Teton County. “We’ve been blessed in Big Horn County, we haven’t had a lot. With the cooler temperatures right now, we might be able to get by with relaxing them. If conditions change we can always put it back in place.”

Godfrey said residents still must notify the dispatch centers in Basin or Lovell prior to starting any fires. He said if weather conditions are right for a “red flag warning,” then burning might not be allowed on that day.

He said anyone burning must be on scene at all times the fire is burning. Fires must be put out completely by 6 p.m.

Cooperating fire management agencies including the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service have already been notified that the county was likely to lift the ban on Tuesday. He said burning would only be allowed on private land and within municipalities that have Department of Environmental Quality burn waivers.

BLM and the Bighorn National Forest still have fire bans in place.

The Bighorn National Forest has Stage 1 restrictions in place that include building, maintaining, attending or using a fire, campfire, charcoal broiler, grill, or barbecue, or a coal or wood stove without a permit, except within agency approved fire grates at Forest Service designated developed campgrounds, picnic grounds, or in an area posted by a Forest Officer allowing fires. Liquefied and bottle gas stoves, lanterns, or heating devices, or a fully enclosed (sheepherder or large tent-type) stove with a ¼ inch spark arrester type screen may be used, provided such devices meet the fire underwriters specifications for safety.

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In other fire news, Godfrey and Big Horn County Firewise Coordinator Chris Weydeveld provided an update on 2012 projects and requested funding for a Sept. 27 work day. Weydeveld said the grant they are using for funding does not allow grant funds to be used for any follow-up maintenance on complete fuels reduction projects. He said the Sept. 27 project that will include treating re-sprouted Russian olive and tamarisk on the Greybull project has to be completed with town of Greybull and county funds. He said the Greybull Town Council approved $650 for chemical costs and an additional $650 is needed.

The commissioners approved a transfer of funds from cash reserve for $650.

Weydeveld said he would be using his own equipment for the project day on Sept. 27 but would like to request $5,000 for equipment in next year’s budget.

The volunteer work day along the Big Horn River in Greybull will be from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

He said along with this project, this year the county Firewise program has developed 21 wildfire mitigation plans, 15 technical assists that did not develop into full plans and six public outreach events.

Weydeveld said he was notified this week by a Big Horn County resident who tried to renew his insurance for a cabin on West Ten Sleep Road near Deer Haven and was told he had to have a wildland fire mitigation plan.

“We knew this was coming and apparently it’s here,” Weydeveld said, adding that 37 homes have been destroyed from the fire on Casper Mountain.

Godfrey and Weydeveld said they have worked with residents in the Deer Haven area, along with Deer Haven Lodge owners to develop a Wildfire Ready Program in the area that includes having weather radios available for emergency broadcasts.

By Karla Pomeroy, Basin Republican-Rustler