State Budget Cuts Down Fire Crew Staffing

By: Chiara Lotierzo Email
By: Chiara Lotierzo Email

With the springtime heat quickly soaring into summer, and the seasonal gusting afternoon winds picking up, the Grand Valley is just a short time away from fire season.

So what's the outlook for the year, and has the slumping economy put out local fire agencies?

Mike Chamberlain from the National Weather Service says fires get strength and advantages from Mother Nature.

He says we're coming off a normal– to above–normal snow pack, which can be good for moisture, but not so good for fuel growth.

Bureau of Land Management Fire officials say the early spring rain helped grow fire fuels, like cheat grass.

Gary Helming with the BLM says the cheat grass is growing tall, but not so tall is the economy.

This year's state fire budget is affording them the same amount of equipment, but less staffing.

But Helming says he expects his crews can handle it, everyone will just have to work a little harder.

Fire officials say the official start of fire season is looking to be around Memorial Day this year.

The Weather Service says monsoon season will hopefully kick in around the second week of July.

Keeping an eye on those two factors will give us a better read on how tough, or easy, this year's fire season will be.

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