Garfield, Eagle county fire restrictions still in effect
Fire restrictions are still in effect for Garfield and Eagle counties, even though Gov. Bill Owens lifted the statewide fire ban last Thursday.
Garfield County administrator Ed Green said the county commissioners might address the fire ban issue today or during the Sept. 23 meeting.
Recent rains have helped raise the moisture content in fuels, which in turn decreases the potential for wildfires. Green said the county commissioners like to see the fuel moisture content reading in vegetation at least 15 percent.
“During the summer, we’ve been hovering at around five,” Green said.
Guy Meyer, the emergency services director for Garfield County, said Friday’s fuel moisture content level ranged from 11 to 14 percent.
“I’m kind of stunned that Owens lifted the ban,” Meyer said.
Garfield County’s fire ban prohibits open fires except in designated pits. The ban also requires spark arresters on chain saws, restricts welding to areas that have been cleared of vegetation, and prohibits fireworks.
Eagle County Sheriff A.J. Johnson said, “With the fire danger remaining high to extreme in our communities, the concerns of the fire districts and chiefs are that any fire in these conditions could jeopardize lives in all areas of the valley.”
The fire ban enacted for the White River National Forest in June also remains in effect, although federal officials will discuss lifting the ban today, according to a spokesperson at the forest headquarters in Glenwood Springs.
The ban prohibits fires, campfires, charcoal broilers and wood stoves in the White River National Forest. Smoking is prohibited except in a developed recreation area, inside a vehicle or building, or in an area at least three feet in diameter which has been cleared of vegetation. Fireworks are also prohibited, and internal combustion engines must have a spark arrester.
Garfield County has been hit with four major wildfires this summer that blackened thousands of acres, burned down 33 homes and caused flooding and mudslides in some areas.
Meyer said even though the summer is winding down and fall is on the way, the potential for wildfires still exists.
“My concern is we’ll get an Indian summer,” Meyer said. “In October and November, it can still dry out again.”
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Grace Wesseling is an animal lover, a cheerleader of seven years and another soon-to-be graduate of Bridges High School, class of 2021.