Routt County imposes heightened fire restrictions

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At a glance

What’s prohibited under Stage 2 restrictions:

■ 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.

■ 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.

Where Stage 2 restrictions are in effect:

■ Unincorporated areas of Routt County

■ Routt National Forest

■ Bureau of Land Management land

■ State land

■ Hayden

■ Steamboat, Oak Creek and Yampa will consider Stage 2 restrictions within the next week.

Stay informed

Don’t have a landline? Receive emergency messages to your cellphone or email by registering for Code Red notifications at www.co.routt.co.us.

— The Routt County Board of Commissioners heightened fire restrictions Tuesday for all unincorporated areas of Routt County as well as state lands, such as Steamboat Lake and Stagecoach state parks.

The restrictions are expected to apply to all land in Routt County by Tuesday, when the Steamboat Springs City Council considers Stage 2 restrictions. Hayden approved Stage 2 restrictions Thursday, Oak Creek will consider them Thursday, and Yampa officials likely will discuss them during a special meeting Wednesday.

The Stage 2 restrictions already are in place for Routt National Forest and Bureau of Land Management land across Northwest Colorado.

Stage 2 restrictions prohibit virtually all open flames, including campfires, stove fires and use of charcoal grills. A lone exception is the use of petroleum-fueled stoves, grills and lanterns provided vegetation has been cleared at least three feet on all sides.

Hot and extreme drought conditions persist throughout Northwest Colorado, and the threat of wildfires have prompted the fire restrictions. Routt County commissioners hope the restrictions will help reduce the risk of wildfires, but they noted that all it takes is a cigarette thrown from a car to start a fire like the one outside of Craig on June 19 that grew to an estimated 2,000 acres.

“You can’t legislate ignorance,” Commissioner Doug Monger said Tuesday.

Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue Chief Mel Stewart said Tuesday that there is no open burning allowed in the city, but charcoal grills can be used until the city adopts the Stage 2 restrictions. The increased restrictions also will prohibit welding, but Stewart said he is recommending an exception that will allow welding at construction sites with approval.

Local officials say they will continue to enforce an order from Gov. John Hickenlooper that prohibits fireworks. They say if fire is needed to light a firework, it is an illegal firework.

Routt County was under a red flag warning again Tuesday as firefighters with the U.S. Forest Service were mopping up a lightning-caused, one-acre fire in the far southwest part of the county.

Routt Zone Fire Management Officer Sam Duerksen said a lightning strike, possibly from Sunday, caused a fire to burn about one acre in a remote area about 4 miles south of the Indian Run State Wildlife Area. Duerksen said a plane sent up to look for lightning-caused fires spotted the smoke at about 2 p.m. Monday.

A helicopter that was mobilized in Craig was used to drop water on the fire, and it was contained by Monday night.

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

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