Craig Moffat County Sheriff Tim Jantz recommended Tuesday that the Moffat County Board of Commissioners consider enacting an ordinance restricting open fires in the county.
Jantz cited his agency’s participation in a 500-acre fire burning about 75 miles northwest of Craig during his visit with commissioners. He said funding for state and federal aid already has been stretched thin because of the early start to the fire season on the Front Range.
The fire began Monday night and was started by natural causes, Jantz said, but he asked commissioners to consider approving an ordinance restricting open fires because of an abundance of fuels across the county and current weather forecasts calling for more dry, hot weather in the coming weeks.
“We put off the fire restriction talk until after Memorial Day weekend, and our public did a great job. We didn’t have any man-caused fires over the holiday,” Jantz said.
Jantz said he was in favor of a fire restriction instead of a ban to allow residents to host events such as family barbecues throughout the summer.
However, Jantz recommended residents be required to pick up an open fire permit from the sheriff’s office as part of the ordinance.
“I don’t want to ruin anyone’s fun,” Jantz said. “Having people come in for a fire permit gives us the opportunity for that face-to-face time to educate the public and to have them inform us when and where they plan to burn.”
Open fires are defined as any type of fire that could “throw an ember,” Jantz said. Gas-fired grills would not be included as part of the recommended ordinance.
If enacted, the fire restriction ordinance would be enforced in unincorporated Moffat County.
The city of Craig already has a longstanding rule against open fires within city limits.
Moffat County Attorney Rebecca Tyree agreed with Jantz’s recommendation and provided the commissioners with fire restriction ordinances written by Routt County and the state as a reference.
No action was taken at Tuesday’s meeting. The topic likely will appear on next Tuesday’s agenda.