Fire ban invoked

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) Garfield has become the first county in Colorado to implement a fire ban, acting on concerns that the state is entering one of its worst fire seasons in years.

County commissioners agreed on Monday to impose the ban on open, outdoor fires after county emergency manager Guy Meyer recommended the move.

He cited estimates that put moisture content at about 15 percent among wild plants. ''As you can see, we are running down the tubes pretty quick,'' Meyer said.

The ban applies to trash fires, fence rows, charcoal grills, and campfires unless they are in permanent fire pits or fire grates in designated campgrounds, picnic areas or recreation sites. The ban will remain in effect at least until July 18.

Mesa County, which neighbors Garfield, will likely enact a fire ban as early as next week, Mesa County sheriff's spokeswoman Janet Prell said. She said the county was waiting on new studies from the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service on fire danger, but expected they would show the fire threat was high.

''On federal lands west of Grand Junction there have already been several small fires,'' Prell said. ''So we're in fire season, we have not had any moisture for several weeks. It's a combination of factors that is heading us into high fire danger.''

Polly White, spokeswoman for the Colorado Emergency Management Office, said high temperatures, lots of fuel and little rain mean it is shaping up to be a dangerous fire season.

Last year was the worst in 50 years, with 93,000 wildfires damaging 7.3 million acres across the West. Interior Secretary Gale Norton said earlier this year that the summer is shaping up to be one of the worst in decades for wildfire potential.

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