Officials recommend easing fire restrictions for Routt County |

Officials recommend easing fire restrictions for Routt County

— Recent moisture has prompted regional fire officials to recommend easing fire restrictions.

Specifically, officials are advocating for Stage 1 restrictions, which would allow campfires at designated campsites and the use of charcoal grills. Both are currently illegal under the existing Stage 2 restrictions.

Routt County Emergency Management Director Bob Struble said regional fire officials met via conference call Tuesday morning to discuss fire conditions. Struble said he had spoken with most fire chiefs in Routt County as well as the sheriff, and everyone was in agreement that the current conditions call for easing the restrictions.

Struble said the Routt National Forest is expected to go to Stage 1 restrictions by this weekend.

The Routt County Board of Commissioners will consider adopting Stage 1 restrictions Tuesday. The commissioners have authority over state-owned land and land in unincorporated areas of Routt County.

Routt County's towns and cities would have to decide individually whether to go to Stage 1 restrictions.

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Stage 2 restrictions remain in place until official adoption of Stage 1 restrictions by individual counties and municipalities takes place.

Struble said Stage 1 restrictions are being recommended for all of Northwest Colorado, except for Moffat County.

"They're still very dry," Struble said.

The recommendations come a day after lightning started a fire and burned about 2 acres in North Routt County near the Wyoming border. Struble said the fire was in a remote area at Three Forks Ranch. He said lightning struck in the middle of a field and burned sagebrush and pastureland.

North Routt Fire Protection District Chief Bob Reilley said lightning will continue to be the biggest concern going forward. He supports moving to Stage 1 restrictions.

"Everybody loves a safe campfire," Reilley said. "We're not out of the woods yet, but things are looking a lot better for us."

Stage 2 restrictions were adopted by Routt County on June 26, one day after similar restrictions went into effect on the Routt National Forest. The city of Steamboat Springs adopted Stage 2 restrictions the following week.

Stage 1 fire restrictions

Stage 1 restrictions prohibit:

■ Building a fire except at designated recreation sites using provided fire grates.

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

■ Fireworks of any type, including sparklers.

■ Explosives, welding and torches. Engines are required to have a spark-arresting device correctly installed.

Violation of fire restrictions is punishable by a fine as much as $1,000 and imprisonment for as long as 12 months.

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