Grassfire yesterday off Spring Gulch was ditch burning that got away

JACKSON HOLE, WYO — Heavy snows and a somewhat soggy spring should mean a delightful greenup headed into summer this season. But healthy growth now could spell elevated wildfire risk later in the summer when grasses cure and fuels begin to dry out.

Already, Jackson Hole Fire/EMS has been called out on a wildland fire. Yesterday afternoon, firefighters responded to a grassfire north of town along Spring Gulch Road.

The fire reportedly escaped from a ditch burning process, and resulted in approximately 26 acres of charred grassland. Local rancher Russ Lucas finished burning around noon, but afternoon winds kicked up shortly after and the fire moved into a field heavy with last year’s dead grass.

“Sunday was warm and dried out this dead grass,” noted Fire Marshal Kathy Clay. “Last year’s bed of fine fuels in the form of dead grass makes for a very receptive fire bed which can easily spread. Once the fire got into this dried grass, the afternoon winds pushed it around the field.”

Fire crews focused on saving stacked hay rounds and building a perimeter firebreak around the spreading grassfire.

Response included Bridger-Teton Forest crews and Grand Teton National Park personnel.

“We greatly appreciate the assistance from our interagency partners on events like this grassfire,” commented Chief Brady Hansen. “Our combined experience in wildland fire helps keep our people safe and provide the best response possible.”

Crews mopped up and left the scene around 6:00pm.

Fire Marshal Kathy Clay explained, “Last year’s bed of fine fuels in the form of dead grass makes for a very receptive fire bed which can easily spread. Once the fire got into this dried grass, the afternoon winds pushed it around the field.” (JH Fire/EMS)

The blaze is a good reminder to be careful with open fire and mindful of what this season may bring.

Please remember to call in all controlled burns to Teton County Sheriff Dispatch (307) 733-2331. Burn only on calm days, have a way to put your fire out, and expect afternoon winds to increase.

Any questions should on controlled burns should be directed to Fire Marshal Kathy Clay at (307) 733-4732.

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