Federal fire restrictions in GarCo start Friday | PostIndependent.com

Federal fire restrictions in GarCo start Friday

The Milk Fire burns in Moffat County just south of Colowyo Mine. The blaze is estimated at 30 acres.
Patrick Kelly / Craig Daily Press |

Federal fire restrictions will take effect in Garfield County Friday.

The stage 1 restrictions, which prohibit fires outside of developed areas, extend to Bureau of Land Management-administered lands in the county.

BLM is basing fire restriction decisions on local conditions, including moisture measurements in vegetation and other factors. The White River National Forest is not initiating fire restrictions, nor is BLM for lands in Eagle and Pitkin counties, although officials warn fire danger is still present in those areas.

“While we have received some moisture in this area over the past few weeks, we are drier than normal and fire danger has reached high levels at elevations below about 8,000 feet,” Karl Mendonca, field manager for the BLM Colorado River Valley Field Office, said in a media release.

Fire restrictions have been in place since July 22 in the BLM Grand Junction Field Office and Mesa County, where crews on Thursday announced containment of the Gibbler Gulch wildland fire at 25 acres.

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In Moffat County, two wildland fires started burning Wednesday afternoon, the Craig Daily Press reported. One of those fires, located south of Colowyo Mine, was burning at approximately 30 acres.

And in Dinosaur National Monument, crews continue to battle the Bench Fire, which was sparked by lightning Friday.

That fire is holding at 570 acres and is approximately 85 percent contained, according to a news release from the National Parks Service.

Under the restrictions taking effect in Garfield County Friday, campfires are only allowed within designated fire grates in developed campgrounds — fire pans and rock campfire rings are not acceptable. Fires of any type, including charcoal, are prohibited outside of developed areas.

Smoking is only acceptable within an enclosed vehicle or building, a developed recreation site or in a barren area free of vegetation.

Welding and use of an open-torch flame is prohibited outside of areas that have been cleared of vegetation, and all internal combustion engines must have a working spark arresting device.

Use of explosive materials also is prohibited.

The restrictions will remain in place until further notice from the BLM. Violating the restrictions is punishable by a fine of as much as $100,000, a prison sentence of no more than 12 months or both, according to BLM.

Violators responsible for starting wildfires also will face restitution costs for fire suppression.

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