Garfield commissioners extend outdoor fire ban
A countywide ban on outdoor fires was renewed Monday by the Garfield County commissioners.
The ban was first imposed June 1 because of extreme fire danger brought on by what is shaping up to be the worst drought in Colorado since the dust bowl days of the 1930s.
The ban must be renewed monthly.
“I wish I could tell you things are better, but they’re not,” said emergency management director Guy Meyer.
The county commissioners also considered imposing a ban on fireworks but decided to put off a decision until June 17. Commissioner Larry McCown said he’d “heard rumblings the governor has been asked to impose a statewide fireworks ban.”
County Attorney Don DeFord explained the county can impose a ban on fireworks but cannot prohibit their sale. In addition, if the ban goes into effect, it would prohibit fireworks only in the unincorporated areas of Garfield County, not the towns.
The fire ban applies to trash fires, fires along fence rows, charcoal grills, and campfires except in permanent fire grates in designated campgrounds. Charcoal fires are allowed at private residences.
Smoking is prohibited outdoors except within an enclosed vehicle, a developed recreation area or in an area where three feet in diameter is barren or cleared of flammable material.
Chain saws cannot be operated without an approved USDA- or SAE-approved spark-arrester and a chemical pressurized fire extinguisher that must be kept with the operator.
Irrigation ditch fires are allowed within and on the perimeters of irrigated farmland where such burning is necessary for crop survival, and with a permit from the Garfield County sheriff.
Persons violating the ban are liable for a $3,000 fine for each separate violation.
The ban will remain in effect until June 3, when the county commissioners will consider extending it.
Last year, the ban extended from June 17 until July 17 and was extended another month to Aug. 17 before it was lifted.
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Garfield County counted five new deaths attributed to COVID-19 over the past six weeks, even as the county’s vaccination rate continues to go up.