Routt County Commissioners ease fire restrictions

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— All fire restrictions are lifted starting Wednesday for state lands and unincorporated areas of Routt County, allowing people to have recreational fires.

The Routt County Board of Commissioners made the decision Tuesday.

Restrictions already have been lifted for the Routt National Forest as well as the towns of Oak Creek and Hayden.

Stage 2 restrictions remain in effect for Bureau of Land Management land, the town of Yampa and the city of Steamboat Springs. Yampa is expected to remain at Stage 2 restrictions until Sept. 24, when the ordinance expires.

Stage 2 restrictions prohibit fires, even those contained to fire rings at campgrounds.

The Steamboat Springs City Council on Aug. 7 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. Once the city goes to Stage 1 restrictions, Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue Chief Mel Stewart has the authority to completely remove fire restrictions.

“Rescinding the existing fire restrictions does not mean there is no fire danger,” Routt County Emergency Management Director Bob Struble. “It just means the extreme conditions have somewhat moderated, and the cooler, shorter days and higher humidity have lowered the risk of wildfire spread. Until the county has received a significant snowfall to ward off fires, we urge outdoor enthusiasts to remain cautious and continue fire safety practices when working or recreating on public and private lands.”

The county recommends people use the following precautions:

• Never, ever leave a campfire unattended, even to go for a short hike. The wind can blow sparks and cause a wildfire.

• Build only a small fire on bare soil with brush cleared away, and try to use an existing fire ring.

• Pour water on the ashes and stir them, making sure the ashes and any unburned wood are cold to the touch before leaving.

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

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