Western Colorado Agencies Announce Fire Ban
KREX News Room
WESTERN COLORADO - Several regional agencies are announcing fire restrictions that will take effect in areas of Western Colorado starting on Thursday.
Officials say the restrictions are in response to low moisture content in vegetation and other risk factors that heighten the possibility of wildfires.
The Mesa County Sheriff’s Office, Garfield County Sheriff’s Office and Bureau of Land Management are all implementing temporary Stage 1 fire restrictions that will go into effect at 12:01 a.m. on Thursday.
Officials are unsure how long the fire restrictions will be in place, meaning personal fire work bans could be in effect for the 4th of July holiday for the second consecutive year.
"Certainly, fire restrictions are intended to be a balance between public safety and liberties we celebrate on the 4th of July," said Andy Martsolf, Mesa County Emergency Manager.
As the risk heightens, fire managers suggest residents visit gjcity.org and sign up for text and email alerts about the latest on wildfires.
Authorities say higher elevation National Forest System lands in Mesa County, as well as the White River National Forest, are not being subjected to fire restrictions at this time. Private lands in Pitkin and Eagle counties are also currently not facing restrictions.
The Stage 1 fire restrictions include BLM lands in Mesa, Garfield, Pitkin, Eagle, Routt, Rio Blanco, Moffat, Jackson and Grand counties.
Officials in Mesa County say the restrictions allow fires in government-designated fire pits only, but restrict any open flames and fires in non-approved fire pits. Mesa County has released information on what can and cannot be done.
• Open burning of any kind.
• Personal use of fireworks.
• On Public Lands, building, maintaining, attending, or using a fire or campfire except within a developed recreation site, or improved site. 36 CFR 261.52(a).
• On Public Lands smoking, except within an enclosed vehicle or building, a developed recreation site or while stopped in an area at least three feet in diameter that is barren or cleared of all flammable materials. 36 CFR 261.52(d).
• On Public Lands operating or using any internal or external combustion engine without a spark-arresting device properly installed, maintained, and in effective working order meeting either the USDA Forest Service Standard 5100-1a (as amended), or appropriate Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) recommended practice J335(b) and J350(a) (36 CFR 261.52(j)).
• Fires within liquid-fueled or gas-fueled stoves, fireplaces within buildings, charcoal grill fires within developed residential or commercial areas, and fires within wood burning stoves.
• Professional fireworks displays permitted according to section 12-28-103 of the C.R.S.
• Fire suppression or fire department training fires.
• Tiki torches, small recreational fires at developed picnic or campground sites contained in permanent fire pits or fire grates with flame lengths not in excess of four feet and which are supervised by a responsible person at least 21 years of age.
Officials say causing a fire in woods or prairie during fire restrictions is a class 6 felony and can be punishable by fines of $1,000-$100,000 and/or imprisonment for 12-18 months. Other possible charges include fourth degree arson and intentionally setting a wildfire.
For more information about fire restrictions on federal lands in the Upper Colorado River Interagency Fire Management Unit, log on to: http://gacc.nifc.gov/rmcc/dispatch_centers/r2gjc/fireinfo_restrictions/index.html
To get information on fire restrictions statewide, visit: www.coemergency.com/p/fire-bans-danger.html