ROCKVILLE — Beer cans and charred logs gave staff at Rockville Hills Regional Park a rude awakening Saturday morning.
“Some people decided last night that they were going to have a party in the parking lot, and they decided – because it was 30 degrees – that they’d walk up to the top and start a fire,” said Keith Truex, a volunteer with the city’s open space program.
Park Ranger Teri Luchini discovered the beer cans in the parking lot Saturday morning and walked up the winding trail to find remnants of a campfire near the entrance to the lake.
“We are very disheartened that this sort of stuff happened here,” she said.
Truex, who was helping the monthly trail crew maintain the hillsides, said igniting a fire wasn’t a smart thing to do.
“We’re in a drought – everything’s still pretty dry out here.”
Luchini said a kicked log or stray ember could have easily set a wildfire.
“We dodged a bullet,” she said. “We were very, very lucky.”
Luchini said the fuel moisture levels at the park are about 7 percent, which is less than the summertime level of about 15 percent. The fuel moisture index is a tool for determining fire danger, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. It measures the amount of water in a fuel such as vegetation.
“It’s just so dry right now,” Luchini said.
She said a red-flag fire warning Monday prompted the closure of the 633-acre park on Tuesday.
“(There are) very few winter closures, but this is an anomaly,” she said.
To make matters worse, the campfire culprits burned first-aid supplies from the “Karma Kit” located near the information kiosk near the lake. Luchini said volunteer mountain bikers had stocked the cabinet with bandages and other items for visitors to use.
“They spend their own money to keep it stocked,” Luchini said.
Truex said she called the Solano County Sheriff’s Office to report the incident and hopes that passing motorists will do the same if they notice anything suspicious in the parking lot when the park is closed.
“Because we are so remote . . . we’re really looking for people who see cars after hours to call the sheriff’s office.”
Who: Trail crew
What: Volunteers help with trail maintenance
When: Rockville Hills Regional Park, Rockville Road
Where: 9 a.m. to noon, third Saturdays
Reach Adrienne Harris at 427-6956 or [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/aharrisdr.