Ban still in effect

Open fires prohibited in Routt County

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— Don't light that bonfire just yet.

Open fires are still outlawed in Routt County, including state and federal lands.

Gov. Bill Owens lifted the statewide fire ban Thursday, catching some local officials off guard.

"It means almost nothing here," said Terry Wattles, Colorado State Forest district forester.

That goes for Moffat and Jackson counties as well, he added.

The statewide ban initiated by Owens on June 4 covered only counties that didn't have a ban of their own. Routt County and the U.S. Forest Service instituted fire bans on June 10. Those bans are still in place but could be lifted in the near future.

"We are in the progress now of talking about it," Routt County Emergency Manager Chuck Vale said.

Vale admitted he was slightly caught by surprise by Owens' announcement to lift the ban. He said there is no set date for the county and the Forest Service to lift their bans.

"Right now, we have nothing on our agenda to lift the fire ban," Routt County Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak said.

If officials decide to lift the ban this week, it will be added to the Routt County Board of Commissioners' agenda next week, she said.

The U.S. Forest Service fielded numerous calls on Friday after Owens' announcement, Forest Service spokeswoman Diann Pipher said.

She emphasized that anyone lighting a fire in the Routt National Forest, as well as all portions of the county, will be breaking the law.

"There will be a meeting next week to look at conditions," Pipher said.

However, she said the weather is supposed to be dry and hot next week, so lifting the ban could be a few weeks away.

Fires are still burning in Routt County but have calmed down considerably because of recent moisture. The Mount Zirkel Complex, encompassing two fires in North Routt County, is 95 percent contained. The Lost Lake and Big Fish fires in the Flat Tops Wilderness are being allowed to burn for land-management purposes.

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