21-06-24 Update Stage 1 Fire

Fire danger in the Sawtooth National Forest remained “high” on Wednesday. Over the weekend, the city of Ketchum will roll out fire restrictions in hopes of preventing human-caused wildfires.

Ketchum will implement Stage 1 fire restrictions starting on Friday, June 25, at 5 p.m., the city announced on Wednesday.

The restrictions make campfires and outdoor wood fires illegal within city limits. They also prohibit smoking outdoors “except in vehicles or in areas at least 3 feet in diameter that is void of flammable vegetation,” the city stated.

Charcoal fires, pellet grills and gas fires will still be permitted.

At the time of the city’s announcement, fire danger in the Sawtooth National Forest was rated “high” due to ample dry fuels.

The decision comes after a city council deliberation to ban fireworks in the city limits Monday night. There, Ketchum Fire Chief Bill McLaughlin said that the Fourth of July used to mark the start of the fire season, but an ongoing severe drought has pushed up the schedule.

“What we’re seeing this year is that fire season has accelerated by at least a month,” he told the council on Monday. “We’re at a similar point now to where we are [normally] in mid-to-late July.”

Expect other jurisdictions to follow suit from here.

The Sawtooth National Forest may implement stricter fire restrictions on Friday, June 25, ahead of the holiday weekend, forest spokeswoman Julie Thomas said on Tuesday.

“We are watching very closely as to when we will consider going into [Stage 1 or 2] restrictions, but at this time I have not been given a date,” Thomas said at the time. “I do know that we have said that by June 25 we will make a decision.”

Fireworks are currently prohibited in the cities of Ketchum and Hailey and in unincorporated Blaine County under emergency ordinances passed earlier this week.

Email the writer: ejones@mtexpress.com

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