Fire bans lifted in Northwest Colorado

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— Fire restrictions have been lifted in Northwest Colorado, officials said Wednesday.

Lynn Barclay, spokeswoman for the Northwest Colorado Fire Management Unit, said fire restrictions have been lifted in Dinosaur National Monument, Browns Refuge Park, all areas west of Colorado Highway 13 on Bureau of Land Management Little Snake and White River Field areas and in Rio Blanco and Moffat counties. Parts of Eagle and Grand counties still are under fire restriction, she said.

There were no fire restrictions in place in Routt County, though fire danger is considered moderate to high in Routt, Jackson and Grand counties, she said.

Despite high moisture levels, fire dangers can rise quickly, she said.

"All the moisture we've had has also brought a lot of lightning," she said.

About 3,000 lightning strikes were recorded in Moffat and Rio Blanco counties Tuesday, Barclay said.

Around seven fires started Tuesday, with the largest one consuming about 45 acres of pinon/ juniper stands in Moffat County. That fire was expected to be contained by Wednesday night.

The moisture is keeping more fire at bay, although that is expected to change when monsoon season ends, she said.

"Just remember that once the rain stops that small vegetation, like small grasses and weeds, are going to dry out very quickly," she said. "We're not out of the long-term effects of the drought we have been experiencing."

Officials are urging residents to continue using diligence and care when using outdoor fires because not all areas of Northwest Colorado have received the same amount of moisture, she said.

"We're going to have a lot more people outdoors in the weeks to come, be it campers or hunters or people recreating," she said. "We all just need to be careful when using fire outdoors."

- To reach Alexis DeLaCruz, call 871-4234 or e-mail adelacruz@steamboatpilot.com

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