On Thursday, June 7, the White National Forest and Garfield County instituted fire restrictions that do not allow open fires.
A news release said the Forest Service and sheriff's department wanted to prevent human-caused wildfires during this dangerously dry fire season. The decision was made in consultation with local fire departments and fire protection districts and was based on the current extreme burn index and long-range weather forecasts predicting continuing dry conditions with high winds, resulting in red flag warnings.
The move follows the city of Rifle's annual ban on open fires and the sale, possession and use of fireworks in the city and Rifle Mountain Park from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Fireworks include almost all forms, including bottle rockets, roman candles, firecrackers, fountains, spinners and sparklers.
Exceptions are backyard barbecue grills where the burning material is wholly contained. In Rifle Mountain Park, grills and the provided fire places are permitted, unless the fire danger increases to a higher level. In that case, notices will be posted in the park and other locations.
On the White River National Forest and in unincorporated Garfield County, the following activities are not allowed:
• Building, maintaining, attending or using a fire, campfire, coal or wood-burning stove, any type of charcoal-fueled broiler or open fire of any type.
Fires are allowed in constructed, permanent fire pits or fire grates within developed Forest Service camp and picnic grounds or recreation sites. Also allowed are petroleum-fueled stoves, lanterns or heating devices that meet the fire underwriter's specifications for safety. Fires that are maintained or attended, with a device that has a spark arrestor, or where the fire is fully enclosed within a screen at all times, are also allowed.
Also not allowed:
• Smoking cigarettes, except inside a vehicle, building or developed recreation site.
• Operating a chain saw, except those with approved spark arrestors when the operator has a shovel and fire extinguisher nearby.
• Welding, or operating an acetylene or other torch with open flame.
• Operating or using any internal combustion engine without a spark arresting device properly installed, maintained and in effective working order.
• Fireworks are not allowed at any time on any public lands administered by the Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management or National Park Service.