Local governments and federal agencies are upping the fire restrictions across much of the Western Slope. KVNF’s Ariana Brocious reports that continued hot, dry and windy weather, low humidity and several large fires already burning within the state have caused fire managers to effectively ban anything that might cause a spark.
With several serious fires raging across the front range and forecasts calling for dry thunderstorms–gusty winds and lightning–Western Slope fire managers are doing their best to prevent any more fires from occurring. The Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and Colorado Parks and Wildlife has started stage two fire restrictions on public lands across a wide swathe of the western slope. That includes the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forests, Crawford, Navajo, Paonia, Ridgway and Sweitzer Lake State parks, and public lands in Delta, Gunnison, Montrose, Ouray, Saguache and San Miguel Counties.
Following direction from county sheriffs, Montrose and San Miguel County also both adopted the stage two restrictions this week.
Stage two fire restrictions prohibit wood or charcoal fires—even within developed sites—and limit cigarette smoking to inside vehicles. Compressed gas flames with an off switch are still allowed. They also prohibit things like welding, using any internal combustion engine, and even using a vehicle off established roads or trails. Fireworks are always prohibited on public lands.
The Delta County Commissioners seem to be the odd ones out: after discussing starting stage two restrictions on Monday, they took no action after Sheriff Fred McKee said he thinks the current fire ban is sufficient. Therefore stage one restrictions remain in place in Delta County—banning all open fires and fireworks—as does the governor’s state-wide fire ban.
All fire officials have said they will be strictly enforcing these bans.