~ by Trevor Phipps ~
For the last few years this time of year has brought about dry conditions. Recently the Teller County area has had relatively high fire danger conditions due to the lack of snow the area has received in the early winter months of December, January, and February. Currently, with no recent snow fall, the ground and dry grass have been abnormally dry. Mixed with high wind conditions causes an increased danger of wild land fires.
Last Monday night, January 1, 2018 the Green Mountain Falls and Chipita Park Fire Department responded to a fire near Green Mountain Falls. According to Fire Chief Steve Murphy, the fire burned about three quarters of an acre. The fire department had the fire put out within two hours of receiving the call.
The fire was located in Green Mountain Falls on the north side of Highway 24 near Packard Lane. There were no injuries or lost property reported as a result of the fire. According to the chief, the cause of the fire is still unknown.
The fast-moving fire to begin 2018, has many residents concerned. Many locals are worried if there will b more fires yet to come so early in the year. According to Fire Chief Murphy, the conditions in the area are pretty dry and the risks of a fire breaking out are high. “We had a lot of moisture in the area this summer that grew all of the grass tall. Now since we haven’t had much snow this winter, all of that tall grass is dry and fuel for a wild fire,” Murphy explained.
Murphy is also concerned that there is currently no fire ban in place for El Paso County. “If we don’t get some snow soon, El Paso County will need to enact a burn ban,” Murphy said. According to the Teller County Sheriff’s Office, Teller is currently on a fire restriction not a fire ban. Murphy hopes that El Paso County will soon follow suit and put some type of fire restriction in place.
According to the fire chief, their agency has had to deal with dry conditions during this time of year in the past. Last year, the fire department had to battle a grass fire in February due to dry conditions and lack of snow. “People need to be smart about fires and remember not to shoot off illegal fireworks,” Murphy warned.