Local agencies step up enforcement in wake of fire danger


What's prohibited under Stage 2 fire 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


The U.S. Forest Service has banned all fires in the Routt National Forest, even fires in approved fire pits such as this one at the Seedhouse Campground in North Routt County.

— Area law enforcement agencies aren’t messing around when it comes to enforcing fire restrictions.

The Routt County Sheriff’s Office issued summonses Thursday to campers who they say started an illegal campfire off Seedhouse Road in the northern part of the county. Firefighters doused the remnants of the campfire by midday Thursday, but the message from law enforcement is clear: There is little tolerance for those who violate fire restrictions.

Stage 2 restrictions already are in effect for almost all lands in Routt County. The city of Steamboat Springs is expected to enact Stage 2 restrictions next week.

“We suggest everybody follow the Stage 2 restrictions in place countywide,” Steamboat Springs Police Department Chief Joel Rae said.

Stage 2 fire restrictions effectively ban all sources of open flame. Even welding and smoking outdoors are prohibited. Fires are not permitted anywhere — even in campfire rings at established campsites. The private use of fireworks has been banned statewide, and many cities, including Steamboat Springs, have canceled their Fourth of July fireworks displays.

Accordingly, the Steamboat police department and Routt County Sheriff’s Office are ramping up patrols of campgrounds and other areas where fire pits are commonplace.

Routt County Sheriff Garrett Wiggins said his office has been issuing warnings to people in violation of fire restrictions. Starting this weekend, those warnings will turn into tickets. Violating fire restrictions in Routt County carries a $100 fine. A second offense calls for no more than $200 in fines, but Wiggins said Thursday his office likely will pursue criminal charges for those caught a second time.

“We want people to use common sense,” he said. “But people blatantly violating that will be dealt with in an appropriate matter. It will be firm.”

Within Steamboat Springs, city limits, violating fire restrictions could result in a $999 fine and 180 days in jail, Rae said. A criminal charge also could be filed depending on the severity of the offense.

“With the (fire) conditions in place and what’s going on in the state of Colorado, we’re taking it seriously,” Rae said. “That’s all there is to it.”

Signs warning visitors of the fire danger have been posted all across Stagecoach State Park and Steamboat Lake State Park. Trash bags have been placed over picnic grills at Stagecoach State Park, and campsite fire rings are covered with caution tape.

Similar steps have been taken at Steamboat Lake, with portable grills already put into storage.

“We feel like we’ve made it very clear,” Stagecoach State Park Manager Craig Preston said.

Rae and Wiggins encouraged people to use common sense, and they asked residents and visitors to quickly report anyone violating the fire restrictions.

“It just takes one spark,” Rae said, “and we could have a High Park or Waldo Canyon Fire around Steamboat.”

To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229 or email lgraham@SteamboatToday.com


Michelle Hale 4 years, 10 months ago

I shouldn't be shocked, but how smart was that? Fire out of control everywhere in Colorado and you have a campfire? Really???? Its about as bright as having a ban on fireworks and then all the store sell them, and permits are given to firework stands!!! Come on people.


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