Wary Firefighters Watch For Lightning As Heat Wave Grips West

Denver (AP) Firefighters are watching the skies across the
west for dry lightning that they fear could trigger wildfires in vegetation dried out by temperatures that reached 100 degrees in many areas. Local officials have banned open fires in several colorado counties and the Bureau of Land Management imposed similar bans in eight Wyoming counties.

In Utah, conditions are so dry that heavy equipment driving on gravel roads started fires when rocks were tossed around and created sparks. Two Bureau of Land Management firefighters in Utah were hospitalized with heat exhaustion and dehydration.

The monsoon season started this week in southern Arizona,
several weeks late, and could bring rains to dampen the fire risk, but the storms also may bring dry lightning. National Weather Service Meteorologist Gary Zell also says that when the monsoons are tardy, they tend to be drier than normal.

In Colorado, firefighters fought four blazes covering nearly 4,000 acres. Several other fires were allowed to burn in uninhabited areas.

Copyright 2005 by the Associated Press. All rights reserved.
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