Fire ban in effect for now

Gov. Bill Owens lifted the statewide fire ban last week, and local officials have begun discussion on when and if local bans should end.

"We're going to be holding some meetings to look at how everything rates out," said Moffat County Sheriff Buddy Grinstead. "Things are still extremely dry even though we had that rain last week."

But conditions are improving, Grinstead said, adding it is likely that he will come before the Moffat County commissioners soon to advise them on when and where to lift the ban.

"I think we should be able to lift the ban east of Highway 13," he said. "But it's still extremely dry in the rest of the county."

Grinstead advised the commissioners to put in a countywide fire ban in a June meeting a week following Owens' statewide fire ban June 4.

Lynn Barclay, fire mitigation expert with the Bureau of Land Management, said range conditions have improved because of the rain the area has received in recent weeks.

She said Northwest Colorado would probably not be classified as being in "severe" condition now, but said all bans put in place earlier this summer are still in effect.

"At this time all restrictions are still in place from Meeker to Kremmling," Barclay said. "We will continue to evaluate the conditions on a weekly basis."

If dry weather returns in the coming weeks, the current relief will be temporary, she said.

"We want to stress to people that they still need to be careful," she said.

Grinstead agreed.

"We've got some good moisture but if it doesn't continue that relief could be short lived," he said.

Right now public lands in the county are still under a Stage II fire ban, which means no open fires, no smoking in the open and no torches can be operated unless someone is in a cleared 10 foot area and has a shovel and fire extinguisher.

So far people have abided by the rules, Barclay said, and this has resulted in few wildfires during a season of severe fire conditions.

"We appreciate the fact that people have been cooperating with the restrictions," she said. "But the fire season isn't over yet."

It's possible, she said, that the restrictions might stay in place until the first snowfall.

Activities prohibited under the fire ban include:

Building, maintaining, attending or using any fire to burn trash, debris, fence rows or vegetation, any campfire, warming fire or charcoal grill; except in designated campgrounds, picnic areas or developed recreation sites where permanent fire pits or fire grates are located.

Smoking; except within an enclosed vehicle or building, a developed recreation site, or while stopped in an area of at least three feet in diameter that is barren and cleared of all flammable material.

Operating a chainsaw without a USDA or SAE approve spark arresting device properly installed and in effective working order, and possessing a chemical pressurized five-pound fire extinguisher, and one round-pointed shovel with an overall length of at least 36 inches. The extinguisher shall be with the chainsaw operator. The shovel may be kept with the fueling supplies but readily available for quick use.

Welding or operating an acetylene or other torch with an open flame; except within an area that is barren or cleared of all flammable material at least 10 feet on all sides from the equipment. The user of the torch must possess a chemical pressurized five-pound fire extinguisher, and one round-pointed shovel with an overall length of at least 36 inches. The extinguisher and shovel may be kept with the welding supplies but must be readily available for quick use.

Using explosives requiring fuses or blasting caps.

Discharge of any fireworks is prohibited.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.