Fire restrictions now in place
Post Independent Staff
It’s wildfire season and, with smoke in the air, federal land managers and local officials have imposed bans on open burning. For the past two weeks, high winds, high temperatures and low humidity have made for extreme fire danger as grasses, shrubs and trees have lost all the life-giving moisture that came with this year’s wet spring.
On Tuesday, Upper Colorado River Interagency Fire Management imposed burning restrictions on Bureau of Land Management lands in the Colorado River basin west of Dillon to the state line. The restrictions were slated to take effect at one minute after midnight today.
“The White River National Forest is in a holding pattern until we have approval to go into fire restrictions,” said Kristi Ponozzo, spokeswoman for the White River. “The BLM is under fire restrictions. Our plan is to go into fire restriction within the next day or so.”
The only exception to the ban is in the Flat Tops Wilderness because it has received higher-than-average moisture.
Both Pitkin and Eagle counties have announced fire restrictions, which took effect Tuesday at midnight.
In Garfield County, “With some exceptions, mostly agricultural, open burning under the International Fire Code is required to be permitted either by the sheriff or each fire district,” Sheriff Lou Vallario said. “We are not presently going to issue burn permits because of the fire conditions.”
If hot and dry conditions continue, fire officials may move to a higher level of restriction, which would prohibit campfires even in developed campgrounds.
Although the usual cause of wildfires this time of year ” dry lightning ” has been notably absent in the last few weeks, a number of fires have been sparked in this area, said Hal Combs, assistant fire management officer with the Upper Colorado River Interagency Fire Management.
The saving grace of fire seasons in the past has been the summer monsoon, which brings afternoon showers to western Colorado. However, no signs of its coming have been observed yet this year, Combs said. Still, some moisture has been predicted for this weekend.
Tuesday, a small fire burned on Silt Mesa on BLM land.
“It was contained at noon and we expect it to be under control and out today,” Combs said. “There have been a couple single-tree fires here and there. The burning conditions are pretty high right now. We haven’t had any lightning fires. The ones we’re getting now are human-caused.”
On Sunday, firefighters fought a small fire on Devereux Road in Glenwood Springs, which burned about a quarter acre of grass, oakbrush and sage. It was extinguished in two hours.
A five-acre wildfire on the Fryingpan River 30 miles east of Basalt is being allowed to burn unchecked but under close supervision, Ponozzo said.
The 2,325-acre Pack Trail Fire 10 miles west of Meeker is also being allowed to burn, since most of it is on private land and landowners gave permission to let it go, according to the Northwest Colorado Fire Management Unit.
Contact Donna Gray: 945-8515, ext. 510
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