Moffat County still free of fire restrictions

While many surrounding counties are beginning to impose fire bans because of dry conditions, Moffat County officials have decided to hold off on such restrictions for now, said Moffat County Sheriff Buddy Grinstead.

"We're a little reluctant to ask for a ban yet," Grinstead said. "We think some of predicted weather patterns may help out."

Predicted thunderstorms and rain are expected to lessen the fire danger, he said.

But Grinstead said the decision to enforce a ban would be determined on a weekly

basis.

As of Monday, fire restrictions are in place for the Routt National Forest. Restrictions also are on some federal and state lands and some other counties in Northwest Colorado, said Diann Ritschard of the Craig Interagency Dispatch Center.

Prohibited activities under a fire ban include:

  • Building open fires and campfires except at developed campgrounds or within fully enclosed stoves, grills or in stoves using pressurized liquid or gas.
  • Smoking cigarettes except if it's within an enclosed vehicle, building or developed recreation site.
  • Operating a chainsaw, except those with approved spark arrestors. The operator must have a shovel and a fire extinguisher.
  • Using a welder, except in cleared areas of at least 10 feet in diameter, and with a fire extinguisher.
  • Fireworks are always prohibited on federal lands.

Violating a fire ban can result in fines of up to $5,000, but fine amounts vary slightly by county, Ritschard said.

Currently, Moffat County fire officials are extinguishing between five to 20 small naturally ignited fires daily, said Dave Skidmore, a zone fire management officer.

Because local firefighters are busy tending to each of these fires, those landowners wanting their land to burn should hold off in this peak fire season, he said.

"It catches some people off guard," Skidmore said. "They've signed a release to let their land burn but that comes with conditions."

Fire officials presented Moffat County commissioners on Monday a prospect of funding more fire personnel to tend fires on private land. Talk surrounding that subject is still in the preliminary stage, Skidmore said.

Routt County commissioners on Monday approved fire restrictions for all private and state lands.

Amy Hatten can be reached at 824-7031 or ahatten@craigdailypress.com.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.