Controlled burn goes out of control; fire restrictions placed on BLM lands |

Controlled burn goes out of control; fire restrictions placed on BLM lands

Staff report
A controlled burn went out of control in Garfield County on Friday, burning 20-30 acres. Photo courtesy of the Garfield County Sheriff's Office
Garfield County Sheriff’s Office/Provided

A controlled burn ran loose briefly Friday in Garfield County, burning 20-30 acres near Rifle Gap Reservoir.

The Garfield County Sheriff’s Office and Colorado River Fire Rescue responded to a call for a fire on Happy Dog Trail west of Rifle Gap Reservoir around 1:40 p.m. Friday, a news release from the sheriff’s office states.

The fire could easily have been avoided, the news release added.

“We are all aware of the extra burden that has been placed on our first responders due to the COVID-19 outbreak in our country and our communities.

“There are simply not enough firefighter/EMTs available for COVID-19 response and non-essential burning responses. This is not only due to the limited number of firefighters but with the COVID-19 requirements, there are spacing requirements for firefighter and crew safety.”

The Garfield County Sheriff’s Office asks that everyone think twice about whether or not it’s absolutely necessary to burn “that slash pile or irrigation ditch” right now.

“We need to work together to reduce and minimize any additional strain on our firefighters and first responders,” the release states.

In a separate release from the BLM, it was reported that stage 1 fire restrictions are now in place on BLM lands in Garfield, Pitkin and Eagle counties.

That means campfires are only allowed within designated fire grates in developed campgrounds, and no fire of any type — including charcoal — is allowed outside of developed areas.

Also barred from BLM lands are:

  • smoking except within an enclosed vehicle or building, developed recreation site or in a barren area free from vegetation;
  • Using explosive materials, including exploding targets such as tannerite;
  • welding or use of acetylene or similar torches with open flame except in an area cleared of vegetation;
  • operating internal combustion engines without a spark arresting device properly installed and in working order;
  • As always, fireworks are prohibited on all federal lands.

Violating the order is punishable by up to $100,000 in fines or imprisonment for not more than 12 months of both, the BLM news release states.

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