Routt National Forest to enact fire restrictions Friday

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— Fire restrictions are coming Friday for federal lands in Routt County and Northwest Colorado.

The U.S. Forest Service announced Thursday morning restrictions for the Routt National Forest that will go into effect Friday. The Bureau of Land Management also is considering the restrictions that could go into effect early next week.

The federal restrictions will be in addition to restrictions that have been in place since April 18 for state lands and unincorporated areas of Routt County. The Stage 1 restrictions being implemented by the federal agencies mirror the restrictions that have been in place in Routt County.

Building a fire will be prohibited except at designated recreation sites using provided fire grates.

Petroleum-fueled stoves, lanterns or heating devices will be allowed provided they meet safety standards.

Smoking is prohibited except within an enclosed vehicle or building, a developed recreation site or while stopped in an area at least 3 feet in diameter that is barren or cleared of all flammable material.

Explosives, welding and torches aren't allowed under Stage 1 restrictions. Engines also are required to have a spark-arresting device correctly installed.

Restrictions were discussed during a conference call Tuesday with regional fire officials.

“Generally, everyone was in consensus in implementing restrictions,” said Dave Toelle, of the BLM.

He said measuring sites have recorded record-high energy release component levels, which are used to gauge how difficult it would be to put out a fire.

Moisture levels in vegetation that could potentially fuel a fire are unseasonably low, especially just west of Craig, Toelle said.

Routt and Jackson counties implemented restrictions early to help put a stop to wildfires started after agricultural burns got out of control. Toelle said Moffat, Rio Blanco and Grand counties likely will implement restrictions next week. Eagle County has announced restrictions that go into effect Friday.

Firefighters in Northwest Colorado are fighting one large wildfire in the corner of the state. The fire was caused by lightning and has burned about 500 acres of sage and grass about 75 miles northwest of Craig. The fire was expected to be contained by 6 p.m. Wednesday.

In Routt County on Tuesday, when a red flag warning was in effect, firefighters responded to two small wildfires near Hayden. At 3:32 p.m. West Routt Fire Protection District firefighters put out a small fire that burned a 20-foot-by-20-foot area along U.S. Highway 40 near mile marker 110. A minute later, a fire was reported at the Motherwell Ranch along Routt County Road 29 near Hayden. The fire burned less than an acre and started after a power line arced and sparks fell into dry grass.

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

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