Northern Colorado fire restrictions to get a fresh look Tuesday

Stage 2 fire restrictions

Stage 2 fire restrictions are in effect for all lands, public and private, throughout Routt County.

What’s prohibited under Stage 2 restrictions:

■ Open flames, including campfires, stove fires and use of charcoal grills. The use of propane grills is allowed.

■ Smoking, except within an enclosed vehicle or building.

■ Possessing or using fireworks or other pyrotechnic devices, including tracer ammunition.

■ Using explosives, including targets that could explode.

■ Using any internal or external combustion engines (such as chain saws) without a properly working spark arrester.

■ Possessing or using a vehicle off road except when parking in areas cleared of vegetation.

■ Welding or operating an acetylene or torch with an open flame.

— Fire management officials from across northern Colorado will wait until early next week to make a decision about whether to leave Stage 2 fire restrictions in place in a five-county area that includes Routt and Moffat counties or possibly step back to Stage 1 restrictions.

Routt County Emergency Management Director Bob Struble said Tuesday that the restrictions would be evaluated next Tuesday, when fire chiefs along with officials from state and federal agencies are scheduled for a conference call. The counties involved also include Grand, Jackson and Rio Blanco, and Struble expects Fort Collins fire officials, who monitor conditions in Larimer County, to listen in.

“Even with the moisture we’re getting, fuel moisture remains exceptionally low, and we’re having lightning-started fires,” Struble said. “Fortunately, we’ve been able to get on top of them in Routt County, but in Moffat County, every day there is lightning they get one or two (fires), if not more.”

One weather station in Steamboat Springs has recorded 0.5 inches of rain in the past three days, but the forecast is for a return to mostly clear skies and high daytime temperatures for the next five or six days.

Under Stage 2 fire restrictions currently in place, all campfires are banned. Should the involved agencies agree on easing back to Stage 1 restrictions, campfires again would be allowable but only in improved fire rings in campgrounds, Struble said. Burning trash in rural areas, interpreted as open fires under the regulations, would continue to be banned at Stage 1.

Struble said a key factor in evaluating the fire ban would be the actual amount of moisture contained in different types of fuels in the area, from heavy timber to sagebrush and grasses. Fuel moisture is based on field samples that are tested in a lab, he said.

They were more recently tested a week ago.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email tross@SteamboatToday.com

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