Parts of Routt County eliminating fire restrictions

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Editor's note: Fire restrictions in Steamboat Springs city limits won't change until after a second reading of the ordinance, scheduled for Sept. 4, is approved. The ordinance then must be published in the paper of record, the Sunday Steamboat Pilot & Today, five days before the ordinance can take effect. That information has been corrected below.

Stage 1 fire restrictions

Stage 1 restrictions prohibit:

■ Building a fire except at designated recreation sites using provided fire grates.

■ Smoking 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 material.

■ Fireworks of any type, including sparklers.

■ Explosives, welding and torches. Engines are required to have a spark-arresting device correctly installed.

Violation of fire restrictions is punishable by a fine as much as $1,000 and imprisonment for as long as 12 months.

Stage 2 fire restrictions

Stage 2 restrictions prohibit:

■ Open flames, including campfires, stove fires and use of charcoal grills.

■ Smoking, except within an enclosed vehicle or building.

■ Possessing or using fireworks or other pyrotechnic devices, including tracer ammunition.

■ Using explosives, including targets that could explode.

■ Using any internal or external combustion engines (such as chain saws) without a properly working spark arrester.

All fire restrictions are expected to be lifted in the coming week for the Routt National Forest, state lands and unincorporated parts of Routt County.

Fire restrictions in the Routt National Forest will be lifted Thursday, according to a press release from the Northwest Colorado Fire Management Unit. The change will allow fires outside designated campsites.

Routt County Emergency Management Director Bob Struble said he would go to the Routt County Board of Commissioners on Aug. 14 about lifting the Stage 1 restrictions. This, in part, would allow people in unincorporated parts of the county to have recreational fires. If approved, the restrictions would be lifted Aug. 15. Struble urged people to remain cautious with fire.

“It’s very dry out there,” Struble said.

Local municipalities also are following suit in lifting the bans.

The towns of Oak Creek and Hayden have lifted all restrictions.

The Steamboat Springs City Council on Tuesday night unanimously approved the first reading of an ordinance that would ease restrictions from Stage 2 to Stage 1. The second reading of the ordinance is scheduled for Sept. 4. If approved, the change would take effect Sept. 14 and would allow people to use charcoal grills but still would prohibit recreational fires outside of campgrounds, picnic areas or developed recreational sites.

Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue Chief Mel Stewart said he was comfortable with the change but expressed concerns about different restrictions within different land management areas causing confusion for Routt County residents and visitors. He said there are discussions under way to remove fire restrictions in the near future.

Yampa Town Clerk Janet Ray said the town still is at Stage 2 restrictions. She expected it would remain that way until Sept. 24, when the ordinance expires.

Increased moisture has prompted the easing of fire restrictions.

Struble said only two of the seven criteria are being met for fire restrictions. If four of the criteria are met, Stage 1 restrictions are recommended.

“We are not meeting the criteria,” Struble said.

Conditions vary across the state, and Stage 2 restrictions will remain in effect for unincorporated areas of Moffat County as well as Bureau of Land Management land in Routt and Moffat counties.

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