Fire restrictions lifted for Routt National Forest

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— All fire restrictions were lifted Thursday for the Routt National Forest, but Stage 2 restrictions remain in effect within Steamboat Springs city limits until Sept. 14.

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. The change would allow people to use charcoal grills but still would prohibit recreational fires outside of campgrounds, picnic areas or developed recreational sites.

Once Stage 1 restrictions go into effect in Steamboat, Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue Chief Mel Stewart said he then has the authority to lift all restrictions immediately.

The Routt County Board of Commissioners is expected to approve lifting all restrictions during its meeting Tuesday. If approved, the restrictions would be lifted Aug. 15 and would affect state lands and unincorporated areas of Routt County.

The towns of Oak Creek and Hayden already have lifted all fire restrictions. Stage 2 restrictions remain in effect in the town of Yampa and on Bureau of Land Management land across Northwest Colorado.

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.

Stage 2 fire restrictions prohibit:

■ Open flames, including campfires, stove fires and use of charcoal grills. The use of propane grills is allowed.

■ 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.

■ Possessing or using a vehicle off road except when parking in areas cleared of vegetation.

■ Welding or operating an acetylene or torch with an open flame.

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

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247 or email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com

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