As of Wednesday, 12 of Wyoming’s 23 counties were under a partial fire restriction, including Laramie, Natrona and Goshen counties. According to state Fire Management Officer Anthony Schultz, Wyoming is on track to see more than its average number of fires this season.
“Over the course of an average fire season, the Forestry Division sees about 800 to 900 fires, with around 180,000 acres being burned,” Schultz said. “We usually spend around $5 million from our fire suppression fund to fight these fires. But from the models we’re seeing, it’s looking like we’re going to go above our average this season.”
Dry conditions across the state through the end of July contributed to the high fire potential, and Schultz said that August and September are usually the fire management office’s busiest months anyway.
The fire restrictions in place are partial, meaning residents in the 12 counties can’t light a wood fire any place outside of an established fire ring, use fireworks, throw lit items (such as cigarettes or matches) into combustible materials or smoke in a developed recreation site that has flammable material within 3 ft.
Schultz recommended that Wyomingites research fire restrictions in their areas and be cautious while recreating and using any fire sources.
He added that humans are the number one cause of wildfires, which the National Park Service confirmed, saying humans cause 85% of wildfires in the country, either directly on indirectly.
“For example, a campfire needs to be completely extinguished when you leave your site,” Schultz said. “You might have to stir it up or even pour water on it. Because if you leave it and there’s a spark that causes a wildfire, there could be an investigation and you could be held liable for that fire.”
A teenager who started a wildfire in Oregon in 2017 was ordered to pay $36.6 million in restitution for the 47,000 acres that were burned.