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Summer brings high numbers of tourists to the Rocky Mountains, who enjoy viewing the beautiful scenery by automobile. Unfortunately, this year’s tourist season coincides with extreme drought, creating the potential for wildfires caused by careless drivers. The Salida Chamber of Commerce issued the following fire prevention tips from the United States Forest Service to minimize fires caused by vehicles.

Vehicle operation:

Avoid parking or driving on dry grass.

Don’t allow trailer safety chains or mufflers to drag.

Never flip cigarette butts out the car window, as it could spark dry vegetation.

Road visibility

Check road conditions by calling 511 or visit

If you have to drive through wildfire, smoke or fog, drive cautiously and turn headlights on low.

Reduce speed, but don’t slam on the brakes, or you could be hit from behind.

If you stop, pull all the way off the road and turn on emergency flashers.

Report hazards to local law enforcement agencies or call 911.

Drifting smoke

The USFS says Chaffee County is seeing a lot of drifting smoke from the fires in New Mexico, Wyoming, Utah and other fires in Colorado.

If you see a defined column of smoke, call 911; be ready to provide general directions and the county or state road nearest to what you are observing.

If you spot fire or smoke rising from the Pike and San Isabel national forests, call 911.

Unmanned systems and wildfire zones

Do not send a personal drone into a wildfire or smoke area. Offenders could face stiff fines and up to 20 years in jail.  The Federal Aviation Administration said aircraft pilots are reporting an increase in drone sightings, and added, “If you fly, we can’t.”

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