Colorado: Fire restrictions enacted in High Country

The Little Sand Fire burns through pine forest near Pagosa Springs. PHOTO COURTESY USFS.

White River National Forest, Summit and Garfield counties join other jurisdictions in banning open fires; controlled campfires in developed recreation areas still OK

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Pointing to the acute danger of large and potentially deadly wildfires in the high country and on the West Slope of Colorado, The White River National Forest, as Summit and Garfield counties this week adopted fire restrictions.

By most measures, the current fire danger is rated as high to very high, with dry and windy conditions forecast to persist on and off for the foreseeable future.

“We don’t take fire restrictions lightly,” said Lake Dillon Fire-Rescue Chief Dave Parmley, explaining that conditions require restrictions to prevent wildfires from occurring “due to unawareness of conditions or an act of carelessness.”

Stage 1 Fire Restrictions prohibit open fires, the use of fireworks and the sale of fireworks within Summit County, with the following exceptions:

  1. Fires contained within liquid-fueled, gas-fueled or charcoal-fueled stoves or grills;
  2. Fires contained within self contained outdoor fire bowls, chimneys or chimineas with screen covers on private property (if placed on a concrete or asphalt surface);
  3. Charcoal-fueled fires within permanent fire pits on privately owned property if: a)such contained charcoal fire is under constant supervision; b)adequate fire suppression apparatus is available at the location of the contained charcoal fire; c)notice of the contained charcoal fire has been provided to the local fire district; and d)notice of the contained charcoal fire has been provided to the Summit County Sheriff’s Office;
  4. Pre-approved public fireworks displays;
  1. Fires in the designated areas of the following improved campgrounds: Pine Cove Campground, Peak One Campground, Heaton Bay Campground, Prospector Campground, Windy Point Campground, Lowry Campground, Blue River Campground, Prairie Point Campground, McDonald Flats Campground, Cataract Campground, Davis Springs Campground, Willows Campground, Elliot Creek Campground, North Cow Creek Campground, South Cow Creek Campground.

“The time is right,” said Red, White and Blue Fire District Chief Lori Miller.  “We support these restrictions one hundred percent, and we are relying on the citizens and visitors of Summit County to remain vigilant and help prevent human-caused fires throughout what could potentially be a long and challenging fire season.”

Open fires are defined as outdoor fires, including but not limited to campfires, warming fires, bonfires, or the prescribed burning of fence rows, fields, wildlands, trash and debris. Notifications to local fire districts and the Sheriff’s Office regarding charcoal-fueled fires within permanent fire pits on privately owned property may be made by calling the Summit County Communication Center at (970) 668-8600.

“I realize these restrictions will cause some inconveniences to forest users. But the conditions we are experiencing are severe. The potential for large expensive wildfires is real. We need to take these steps to minimize the potential for human-caused fire,” said Forest Supervisor Scott Fitzwilliams.

On the White River National Forest and in unincorporated Garfield County lands, the following activities are not allowed:

Building, maintaining, attending or using a fire, campfire, coal or wood-burning stove, any type of charcoal-fueled broiler or open fire of any type.

Fires are allowed in constructed, permanent fire pits or fire grates within developed Forest Service camp and picnic grounds or recreation sites.

Approved petroleum-fueled stoves, lanterns or heating devices are also permitted, as are fires that maintained or attended within a device that has a spark arrestor or where the fire is fully enclosed within a screen at all times is allowed.

Also prohibited are:

Smoking cigarettes, except within an enclosed vehicle, building or developed recreation site.

Operating a chainsaw, except those with approved spark arrestors. Operator must have a shovel and fire extinguisher.

Welding, or operating an acetylene or other torch with open flame.

Operating or using any internal combustion engine without a spark arresting device properly installed, maintained and in effective working order.

Fireworks are not allowed at any time on any public lands administered by The U.S. Forest Service, The Bureau of Land Management or the National Park Service.

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One Response

  1. Thank you for this comprehensive article on this season’s wildfire danger. It is critical that people understand just how dangerous this season will be due to the current conditions.

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