Weather in Northwest Colorado has been balmy this fall and everyone has been enjoying it except for Craig Fire/Rescue and the Moffat County Sheriff's Department. Conditions are extremely dry, keeping officials on their toes and leading to a fire ban in Moffat County.
Fire Chief Roy Mason is concerned about the people heading into the mountains for the third big game hunting season that begins Saturday.
"We have been lucky up to this point," said Mason. "All it's going to take is a hot catalytic converter in the brush. Things are so dry it's scary. We were at the fire down by the railroad tracks by the water plant last weekend and it was absolutely amazing how fast it was moving."
Sheriff Buddy Grinstead agrees with Mason and will ask the Moffat County Board of Commissioners today to approve a fire ban for all four sections in Moffat County.
"Things are tender dry," said Grinstead, who is also a volunteer firefighter with Craig Fire/Rescue. "If there was any type of wind things would go up in a hurry."
Grinstead believes it is unfortunate the ban has to be in place for the third hunting season, but mother nature just refuses to cooperate.
Grinstead believes hunters will respect the ban and doesn't foresee any major problems.
"Most hunters have real good common sense," said Grinstead. "They are going to have to be prepared to add an extra blanket or two."
Public service announcements are being prepared for the media and the Moffat County Road and Bridge Department is ready to start putting up signs informing people of the fire ban.
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the U.S. Forest Service have also issued a fire ban for Moffat, Rio Blanco and Routt counties. Under the restrictions, no open fires of any type are allowed except within designated recreation sites and agency-provided fire gates. Fires are allowed within enclosed stoves or grills and stoves using pressurized liquid or gas. Smoking is allowed in an enclosed building or vehicle or a clearing 3 feet in diameter. Chainsaws without properly installed spark arrestors, a fire extinguisher and a shovel are not allowed. Using a welder, either arc or gas, or torch with open flame except in a cleared area of at least 10 feet in diameter is prohibited.
Anyone with more questions may call the local U.S. Forest Service, BLM or sheriff's department for more details.