Teton County lifts evacuation for Granite Creek homeowners;
Officials warn of continuing smoke dangers
Jackson, Wyo. – Aug. 5, 2016 – The Teton County Board of County Commissioners called a special meeting on Friday morning to lift the Cliff Creek Fire area closure of the Granite Creek drainage in southern Teton County.
The vote officially reopened the Granite Creek Road beginning at 10 a.m. today. Granite Creek homeowners can choose to remain in their homes overnight; other members of the public will be restricted to day use and are only permitted in areas west of Granite Creek Road, per Forest Service area restrictions that are still in place. Burn areas, overnight use of Granite Creek Campground, Granite Hot Springs and numerous forest trails remain closed until further notice. Cliff Creek Road and Kozy Campground reopened earlier this week.
“We are glad that folks can get back to their homes,” said Rich Ochs, Teton County Emergency Management Coordinator. “We also remind people that this incident is far from resolved. This is still an active fire, and people still need to be careful.”
Although fire closures are technically beginning to lift, that doesn’t mean officials are recommending people spend time up Granite Creek yet. Interagency Cliff Creek Fire team members met with about two dozen Granite Creek homeowners on Thursday evening in Hoback. Fire officials said that while they wanted to allow property owners the personal choice to return to their homes as soon as reasonably safe, there will still be potential health issues from residual smoke and other post-fire hazards.
“The smoke forecast at Granite Creek for the next few days is at ‘very unhealthy’ or ‘unhealthy’ levels,” said Teton County Public Health Officer Dr. Travis Riddell. “People should avoid all physical outdoor activity in the Granite Creek area. The young, elderly, pregnant women and those with chronic respiratory or heart conditions, such as Asthma, COPD, Chronic Bronchitis and Congestive Heart Failure, etc., are the most susceptible to the effects from wildland fire smoke and should completely avoid these areas.”
Riddell said that the concentration of smoke in the air tends to be greater in the mornings. “If you can, we recommend people not go into the area until the early afternoon when the winds pick up and the smoke clears,” he said. “If your symptoms worsen while in the Granite Creek area we recommend leaving and seeking medical attention.”
The Cliff Creek Fire team also cautioned against venturing into the burn areas, which remain closed to property owners and the public.
“Not only do we not want you in the burn area; you don’t want to be up in there,” said Deputy Incident Commander Taiga Rohrer, Great Basin Team 5. “In the first couple of weeks after a fire, there are going to be a lot of trees coming down.”
Lower Valley Energy has been removing hazardous trees along the Granite Creek powerlines and was anticipating restoring power by today.
A nine-member Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) team will arrive today to evaluate water, soil, wildlife and forest rehabilitation needs.
Approximately 70 residents, campers and others recreating in the Granite Creek area south of Jackson were evacuated on July 18 when a lightning-caused fire five miles north of Bondurant made its way to the Granite Creek ridgeline. Areas evacuated included the Jack Pines Summer Homes, Granite Creek Campground, the Granite Hot Springs pool, and Safari Club International Foundation’s American Wilderness Leadership School.
Full details on today’s access, closures, fire status and cleanup activities, are available at: http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/article/4865/32189/.
For tips on health matters after a wildfire, including recommendations regarding smoke, visit Teton County Public Health: http://www.tetonwyo.org/ph/docs/HealthandFoodConcernsAfteraWildfire.pdf.
As of this morning, the fire was at 31,169 acres and is 84 percent contained.