Steamboat Springs Routt County commissioners approved a countywide fire ban Monday, joining counties around the state in implementing such a ban.
The countywide ban pertains to all private and state-owned land beyond municipal boundaries.
Open fires on public land in Routt County were banned last week in response to urging by Gov. Bill Owens.
Owens asked county governments, municipalities and federal land agencies that had not yet implemented a ban on open fires and fireworks to reconsider their circumstances and implement restrictions as they saw fit.
The U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management last Wednesday applied "Stage 1" fire restrictions to the Routt National Forest and other lands managed by the federal government.
Fire, law enforcement and emergency management officials in the county hoped to hold off on any fire restrictions until this week.
"Unfortunately, Mother Nature was a little ahead of us," Routt County Emergency Manager Chuck Vale said.
Weekend blazes throughout the state underscored the urgency to move forward with fire restrictions, he added.
Routt County meets six of seven criteria used in determining the need to implement fire restrictions, said Kent Foster, U.S. Forest Service official.
The guidelines incorporate such factors as fuel moisture content, drought conditions, weather and the availability of fire suppression resources.
Windy, dry conditions over the weekend only increased the severity of those factors, Foster said.
County Commissioner Dan Ellison said the county chose an appropriate time to implement fire restrictions.
Had the county acted too soon, he said, people might have shrugged off the seriousness of fire restrictions.
"The public can become pretty jaded about these things if we're doing it willy-nilly," Ellison said.
The county restrictions, which are similar to the ones placed on state and federal lands, prohibit fires used to burn trash, fence or vegetation and ban campfires and grills in areas other than designated campgrounds and recreational sites.
The restrictions apply to cigarette smoking beyond buildings, open vehicles and designated camping area stoves.
People who operate chainsaws must install a device that impedes sparks and have a fire extinguisher and shovel on hand while the chainsaw is in use.
Torches with open flames are prohibited, unless flammable material sits at least 10 feet away from all directions.
Explosives that require fuse-blasting caps are also included in the ban.
Agricultural burns are permitted only by first securing permission from the Routt County Sheriff's Office.
Failure to abide by the restrictions results in fines up to $100 for the first offense and $200 for the second offense.
Fire restrictions apply until the county commissioners repeal the ban.