Pay attention to the fire bans and restrictions — PLEASE!

I wish I were talking about happier topics this week, but with the Mullen Fire eating up more of the Medicine Bow National Forest every day, that’s what I’m focusing on. Please pay attention to the fire bans. They’re in place for good reason.

When I joined my friends at their hunting camp near Rob Roy Reservoir at the beginning of September, there were already fire bans in place. We were not allowed any type of campfire, which was a bummer, because hunting camp just doesn’t seem like hunting camp without a campfire to gather around at the end of the day.

But we certainly didn’t want to be the cause of the next major forest fire, so we followed the rules. And most of the other campers we saw did the same. However, there were a number of camps that had fires going in fire rings. It was Labor Day weekend, and a few revelers were even more brazen, and they had large bonfires blazing.

We watched from camp or saw as we drove back to camp from our evening hunts as Forest Service and Albany County Sheriff’s deputies delivered fines to those who had fires going. I don’t know what those fines cost, but I’m hoping they were big. Those fire bans are in place for good reason. Our forests are dry from years of drought, compounded by an infestation of pine beetles that has left a staggering number of trees dead. One errant spark could start the next Mullen Fire.

Please follow the fire bans and the forest closures. There’s a temporary flight restriction in place to allow the firefighters to use aircraft to drop water, so all other aircraft are prohibited from flying in the area. That includes drones. Stay out of the closed areas so the firefighters can do their jobs. And if you go to an open area, follow the fire ban. No open fires are permitted, including charcoal grills. Take a fire extinguisher and a shovel, just in case.

And pray for snow. Lots and lots of snow.