Prescribed burns caused five out-of-control fires in April

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Last month marked one of the driest beginnings to spring in recent memory, and fire officials are asking Moffat County residents to take the lack of moisture into consideration when planning agriculture or trash burns.

Cpl. Todd Wheeler, fire management officer with the Moffat County Sheriff’s Office, said deputies responded to seven fires in April caused by prescribed burns that grew out of control.

Five of those seven fires took place on Red Flag days when residents shouldn’t have been burning in the first place, Wheeler said.

“There aren’t any repercussions for people who decide to burn on Red Flag days,” Wheeler said. “However, residents can be prosecuted civilly or criminally should a fire get out of control and cause property damage, injury or death.”

In April, Wheeler participated in a conference call with officials in Routt, Rio Blanco, Jackson and Grand counties.

Citing a 3,000-acre blaze in Jefferson County sparked by controlled burn efforts, every county in Northwest Colorado put a restriction on prescribed burns, except Moffat County.

“What we’re trying to do is avoid fire restrictions and allow people to burn, but burn responsibly,” Wheeler said. “All we’re asking is for people to give us notification when they plan to burn and to burn on another day when Red Flag warnings are in effect.”

In addition to notification, Wheeler said now is a good time for residents to begin mitigating fuels around their property.

To notify the sheriff’s office of a prescribed burn, call 824-4495.

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