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Restrictions on fire use get tighter

Marice Doll

As the fight against the Coal Seam Fire continues, authorities are issuing more stringent restrictions for fire use on Colorado public lands.

In imposing tighter fire-use restrictions on the 2.3 million acres of public land in White River National Forest, forest supervisor Martha Ketelle said, “With the current level of fire danger in Colorado, our firefighting resources are spread thin. We want the public to be able to continue to use the forest while doing everything we can to prevent additional fires. I think prohibiting open fires on the forest allows us to do this.”

Under the new restrictions, the previously approved metal fire rings or grates provided by the Forest Service can no longer serve for charcoal, coal or wood fires. Petroleum-fueled stoves, lanterns or heating devices meeting fire underwriter specifications for safety are allowed.

The Grand Junction Field Office for the Bureau of Land Management has also increased fire-use restrictions on its public lands.

The new orders prohibit the burning of solid fuels, which includes wood, coal or charcoal; smoking except within an enclosed vehicle, trailer or building; using an explosive requiring fuse or blasting caps, including fireworks; operating a chainsaw; and, welding or operating an acetylene or other torch with open flame, except within an area that is barren or cleared of all flammable materials at least 10 feet on all sides from equipment.

Regarding firework displays, the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office announces that all planned fireworks displays in Aspen, Snowmass Village and Basalt are canceled for Independence Day 2002. The countywide ban on all burning and fireworks remains in effect.

The FAA is still restricting flights over the Coal Seam Fire area. In its original order, the FAA issued Temporary Flight Restriction for private flights below 13,500 feet and five nautical miles in airspace from the center of the fire.

This closure is standard procedure at wildfire suppression operations that use aircraft for observation, mapping, suppression and other fire-related activities. Aircraft not associated with fire operations create an unsafe situation and may prevent air tankers and other suppression aircraft from working on the fire, the orders explain.

Take offs and landings at the Glenwood Springs and Garfield County airports are exempt from this closure.

All fire restrictions remain in force until officially rescinded.


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