County moves to Stage 1 fire restrictions |

County moves to Stage 1 fire restrictions

Sheriff, fire warden recommended open fire ban, commissioners agreed

Moffat County will be under fire restriction as of midnight Wednesday.

The County Commissioners convened a special meeting Tuesday afternoon to hear from Sheriff and fire warden KC Hume on a resolution to establish a Stage 1 fire restriction. The resolution passed.

Hume, who said last week that the first Weekly Fire Restriction Call was held last Monday between his office and a few dozen other regional fire-suppression agencies, told the Craig Press at the time that it was essentially a foregone conclusion that fire restrictions would need to come about soon.

This Monday, they came.

“We have indices based on seven pieces of criteria,” Hume said, citing fire fuel quality, weather, humidity and other factors. “We utilize those in the evaluation process throughout the summer, moving from no restriction through the various stages of restrictions.”

Stage 1 fire restriction prohibits some open fires and open burning, with exceptions including maintained fires within permanently constructed fire grates and in developed campgrounds, picnic grounds or private residences. It also prohibits, with some exceptions, explosive material like fireworks, welding or operating an acetylene or other torch with an open flame and outdoor smoking, among other activities.Hume noted that, while not every agency in the region will enter fire restrictions together, they work to present a cohesive, coordinated approach to the action, ensuring geographic predictability across federal, county, state and other unincorporated lands.

The sheriff added that among other considerations taken into account before enacting a fire restriction is that of business and industry.

“Fire restriction impacts business and industry,” he said. “There’s agricultural interests, industrial interests, and when we move into these stages, it prohibits some of their activities. We’re conscious of that.”

But human activity, he said, must be responsible in order to prevent disastrous wildland fires in the current conditions, which include an ongoing historic drought.

Last summer, while the state burned around it, Moffat County was spared a major fire. Hume said that was in part because of human responsibility.

“Moffat County was primed for a large fire (last summer),” he said. “Fortunately for us, we didn’t see that. It wasn’t because the fuels weren’t ready. They were, and the conditions were primed for it, but it was partly because weather cooperated, and then also because the people of Moffat County took extra steps to be extremely careful. That made it so we didn’t have human starts.”

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