- Associated Press - Monday, March 30, 2015

SHERIDAN, Wyo. (AP) - Fire officials in Sheridan County and the Bighorn National Forest are on alert after a spate of weekend blazes and a forecast for a few more dry days.

One blaze sparked by an abandoned campfire burned a quarter of an acre in the forest, said Jon Warder, a U.S. Forest Service fire management officer in Sheridan.

County volunteers responded to the fire 5 miles above Dayton on Highway 14 and forest staff “just finished mopping up,” Warder said Monday.

He said fire warnings have been declared for the next two days because of dry weather, but after that some moisture is expected.

Snowpack and other water accumulation was about 90 percent of normal in the area but has been tapering off recently, Warder said.

Big Horn Fire Chief Doug Enloe said his crews were helping fight a Goose Valley fire when they spotted smoke from another in a steep, rugged area near a subdivision.

Crews at first had to use tracked vehicles to reach the fire because of snow on the area’s roads, which are not maintained during the winter.

Enloe said no one was injured, and none of the area’s cabins were damaged. He added the fire was “unusual for this time of year,” noting the south-facing slope where it broke out was dry, while areas nearby were still snow-covered.

Goose Valley Fire Chief Bob Williams said he saw several grass fires last month.

“I hate to say it, but I think it might be a pretty bad fire season,” Williams said.

Saturday’s Goose Valley fire started as a prescribed burn and got out of control, he said. About 10 acres of grass were burned, a shed was destroyed, and a home was damaged by heat and smoke before crews put out the fire about four hours after they were called.

Williams said property owners are setting prescribed fires to clear brush that accumulated in the fall, when fire restrictions were in place. He said no restrictions are in place now. But citing dry, windy conditions, he is advising homeowners not to burn.

The Sheridan Press reported crews from the Forest Service and nearly all the volunteer districts in the county responded to fires Saturday.

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