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‘As bad as it’s ever been’

With conditions becoming more dry, officials urge residents to follow fire ban guidelines

Dan Olsen

Stage 1 fire restrictions

• Building or using any open fire or campfire, except within approved and provided fire grates at developed campgrounds, or within fully enclosed stoves, enclosed charcoal grills, or in stoves using pressurized liquid or gas

• Smoking, except within an enclosed vehicle, building or developed recreation site or a cleared area of at least 3 feet in diameter.

• Operating a chainsaw, except those with approved spark arresters.

• Using an acetylene welder, except in cleared areas of at least 10 feet in diameter

• Fireworks, explosives or any incendiary device

Stage 1 fire restrictions

• Building or using any open fire or campfire, except within approved and provided fire grates at developed campgrounds, or within fully enclosed stoves, enclosed charcoal grills, or in stoves using pressurized liquid or gas

• Smoking, except within an enclosed vehicle, building or developed recreation site or a cleared area of at least 3 feet in diameter.

• Operating a chainsaw, except those with approved spark arresters.

• Using an acetylene welder, except in cleared areas of at least 10 feet in diameter

• Fireworks, explosives or any incendiary device

— With fire danger in Moffat and Rio Blanco counties “very high to extreme,” officials warn residents to follow the fire ban guidelines and report any smoke or fire immediately.

Despite fire bans in both counties, fires are becoming more and more of a daily occurrence for firefighting agencies.

And it could get worse.

The Northwest Colorado Fire Management Unit said lightning is the usual cause of fires, and more dry thunderstorms are in the forecast.

“Fire activity is steady with 23 new fires the past week,” fire management officer Cliff Hutton said. “Sizes range from one-tenth (of an) acre to the 200-acre Jack Fire.”

The Jack Fire is burning west of Greystone in the Jack Springs area on Bureau of Land Management acreage.

All fires are now contained except for the Hells Canyon Fire in Dinosaur National Monument.

That fire, located south of Moffat County Road 14 at the mouth of Hells Canyon, is inaccessible by fire engines and is not threatening any improvements or resources at this time.

The one-acre Hells Canyon fire started Saturday, and is slow-moving. It will be allowed to continue in a natural role to improve existing habitat.

Moffat County Sheriff Tim Jantz said his office is receiving an increased number of calls concerning the fire ban in Moffat County.

“We get a lot of people that want to burn their trash, and I tell them to please, just give us 90 days. By October, we should get the monsoonal rains,” he said. “I also let them know that they are liable if that fire gets away from them.”

Moffat County Commissioner Tom Mathers called the dry conditions “as bad as it’s ever been,” and noted the ban even requires smokers to be in a clear area before lighting up.

Anyone found guilty of starting a wildland fire, either negligently or willingly, may be held liable for costs associated with the fire.

For a listing of fire restrictions, visit the Office of Emergency Management website at http://www.dola.state.co.us/oem.


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