Stage 1 fire restrictions begin Friday for Northwest Colorado | CraigDailyPress.com

Stage 1 fire restrictions begin Friday for Northwest Colorado

Community fireworks show not impacted, person use of fireworks restricted

Hot, dry conditions expected to continue through July have prompted Stage I fire restrictions in Northwest Colorado.

CRAIG — Stage 1 Fire Restrictions will begin for all unincorporated areas of Moffat County at 8 a.m. Friday, June 29 and continue until further notice.  Any individual found responsible for starting wildfires will face restitution costs of suppressing the fire.

The Moffat County Sheriff’s Office, in cooperation with state and federal agencies, has placed restrictions on open burning within unincorporated, private and state lands in the county in an effort to prevent wildland fires.

Sheriff KC Hume requested the restrictions be passed by the Moffat County Board of County Commissioners during its meeting Thursday, June 28, due to the unseasonably warm and dry weather patterns, which have created dangerous fire conditions and raised concern that any fire could jeopardize life and or property.

Restrictions are in-line with those adopted in neighboring Grand, Jackson, Larimer, Rio Blanco and Routt counties. Stage 2 restrictions will begin June 29 in Garfield County.

Fireworks

As of Thursday morning, the restrictions will not impact the community fireworks show, planned on July 4 in Craig, Hume said. He explained that, unlike Steamboat Springs, where fireworks are staged at four locations within forested areas, the Craig show is staged on ground easily defended by crews. While the show is expected to go on, there are factors that could require it’s cancellation, specifically, the deployment of area firefighting resources to other locations.

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“We evaluate it on a day-to-day basis. The weather is not going to change.  As long as resources are available, we can do the show. If we have fires, and those resources are not available, then that would make a difference,” Hume said.

Fireworks are always prohibited on BLM, National Forest and National Park Service lands. Stage 1 Fire Restrictions ban using explosive materials — including fireworks, blasting caps, tracer rounds, exploding targets or any incendiary device — which may result in the ignition of flammable material within all other unincorporated, private and state lands in the county.

Fire managers base decisions about fire restrictions on specific moisture measurements in vegetation and other risk factors, such as predicted weather and amount of current fire activity.

"We have been closely monitoring changing fuel moisture levels to determine when fire restrictions are warranted," said Colt Mortenson, fire management officer for the Northwest Colorado Fire Management Unit.

Fire officials with the Northwest Colorado Fire Management Unit urge the public to be cautious this weekend and the upcoming holiday week as conditions continue to dry in Northwest Colorado.

Suggested precautions include having a shovel and water on hand to extinguish campfires, where permitted, and avoiding parking in tall dry grass or driving OHVs in areas where dry grass can be ignited by hot exhaust.

It only takes a single spark to start a wildfire — equipment should have working spark arresters, and trailers should be inspected to ensure chains are not dragging.

Many other areas in Colorado are also under fire restrictions. For more information about fire restrictions, visit coemergency.com/p/fire-bans-danger.html.

Stage I Restrictions prohibits the following activities

• Open burning, excepting fires and campfires within permanently constructed fire grates in developed campgrounds and picnic grounds, charcoal grills and wood burning stoves at private residences in areas cleared of all flammable materials, and those other exceptions/exemptions as noted in Section 9 of Moffat County Ordinance 13-03.

• Using explosive material — fireworks, blasting caps, tracer rounds, exploding targets or any incendiary device which may result in the ignition of flammable material.

• Welding or operating an acetylene or other torch with an open flame, except within an areas that are barren or cleared of all flammable material at least 10 feet on all sides from the equipment and when the welder possess a chemical-pressurized, five-pound fire extinguisher and one round-pointed shovel with an overall length of at least 36 inches. The extinguisher and shovel may be kept with the welding supplies but must be readily available for quick use.

• Outdoor smoking is also prohibited except within an enclosed vehicle or building, a developed recreation site or while stopped in an area at least three feet in diameter that is barren or cleared of all flammable materials.

• Operating or using any internal combustion engine without a spark arresting device properly installed, maintained and in effective working order.

For more information, call the Moffat County Sheriff’s Office at 970-824-4495.