The Trail Creek Fire was a warning.
The man-caused fire burned more than 250 acres near a popular campground and through a popular hiking, biking and skiing plateau above the creek. It charred a hillside before it was stopped by retardant dropped by tanker planes.
The fire was a taste of what may be around the corner if people aren't vigilant.
The area is suffering severe drought with no rain in sight, according to the National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center. This confirms what every hiker and biker knows. The dust is already deep on trails, and grasses are getting crunchy. The dry season arrived a month early and wild vegetation is suffering.
The Wood River Valley will welcome thousands of guests for the Fourth of July holiday and with them will come increased risk of wildfire.
Many, many people will not be aware of the critical fire conditions—unless local people tell them. Everyone who works with visitors should take special care to inform them about the fire danger and to ask them to be especially careful.
A carelessly tossed cigarette, a smoldering campfire, uncontrolled fireworks, or a vehicle with a hot exhaust pipe parked on tinder-dry sage could ignite the next conflagration.
Federal wildland fire crews are painfully short-staffed because of decreased federal funding, and may not be able to fight every fire that pops up. This could mean more severe fires than usual.
The Sun Valley area is beautiful, but fragile. If residents and visitors prevent man-caused fires, we may make it out of the drought cycle relatively unscathed.