Pile burning to begin on the Aspen-Sopris Ranger District


  • Curtis Keetch, Aspen-Sopris District Ranger, 970-404-3157
  • Jim Genung, Fuels Specialist, 970-404-3150

Carbondale, Colo. - Fire managers from the Upper Colorado Interagency Fire and Aviation Management Unit (UCR) plan to take advantage of changing weather conditions to burn slash piles that are the result of fuels reductions and hazardous tree removal projects. Pile burning will take place on the Aspen-Sopris Ranger District on the White River National Forest.

Slash piles have been created for burning in project areas where other means of disposal are not feasible due to steep slopes and lack of access. These projects were conducted for hazardous fuels reduction in the wildland urban interface, the result of timber operations and to improve wildlife habitat. Hazardous fuels reduction projects create fuel breaks that help reduce the risk of wildfire, while giving firefighters a safer place from which to defend homes and communities. Firefighters will spend the upcoming winter months burning piles in a number of locations across both districts. 

“Pile burning is often the last step in the process to completing these important fuels reduction projects,” said Scott Fitzwilliams, Forest Supervisor. “We recognize it can be inconvenient to see and smell smoke in the air; however, we need to continue to be focused and diligent about reducing hazardous fuels and protecting our communities during these limited burn-window opportunities.”

Crews may burn ten to hundreds of piles per day. These prescribed fires will be ignited when fuel, weather, and smoke dispersion conditions allow fire managers to burn in an effective and safe manner. Additionally, when piles are burned with snow on the ground there is an extremely low chance of the fire spreading to adjacent vegetation. Local residents and travelers through the area should be aware of the likelihood of smoke rising from these areas. Most of the smoke will dissipate during the day.  However some nighttime smoke may remain in valley bottoms and drainages and is expected to be short in duration. Public and firefighter safety is always the main priority during firing operations.

Specific locations for pile burning, when conditions warrant, include the Baylor Park area and 3 miles north of Thomasville.

Prescribed fire smoke may affect your health. For more information see: https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/cdphe/wood-smoke-and-health

Taking individual responsibility to reduce flammable materials around homes and communities before a fire occurs can help keep the public and firefighters safe. To learn what you can do on your private property to make it fire wise go to: http://www.firewise.org/

For more information please contact the Aspen-Sopris Ranger District office at 970-963-2266.

The Upper Colorado River Interagency Fire and Aviation Management Unit (UCR) includes Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service firefighting resources that cover 5.8 million acres along Interstate 70, the Colorado River and Roaring Fork River corridors from the Continental Divide to the Utah state line. The UCR includes the White River National Forest and the BLM’s Colorado River Valley and Grand Junction field offices. The UCR cooperates with other federal and state agencies, local communities, and fire departments on a wide range of activities including fuels treatments, fire prevention, and suppression.