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Warm, dry weather has elevated fire danger in Summit County
Contact: Thomas Davidson, County Commissioner, 970-333-9817
SUMMIT COUNTY – The Board of County Commissioners adopted a resolution Thursday morning to enact Stage 1 fire restrictions, in recognition of warm, dry weather that has elevated fire danger to "High" in Summit County. Restrictions will go into effect at 12:01 a.m., Friday, Aug. 23.
"We feel fortunate to have had a lot of moisture for most of this summer, but the vegetation in Summit County is now very dry, as we often see this time of year," Summit County Commissioner Thomas Davidson said. "We don't expect that conditions will improve in the near future, and with a holiday weekend around the corner, it's important for us to be proactive in preventing wildfires."
Summit County's implementation of Stage 1 fire restrictions maintains consistency with the Dillon Ranger District of the White River National Forest, which will also implement restrictions on Friday.
“Current forest conditions indicate low moisture in our timber and grasses," District Ranger Bill Jackson said. "Low fuel moisture, coupled with low relative humidity, high daytime temperatures and dry, gusty winds, has elevated the fire danger to High in Summit County. For this reason the Dillon Ranger District and Summit County will be implementing Stage 1 fire restrictions beginning this Friday, Aug. 23. Some moisture is possible the next few days from isolated thunderstorms, but not enough to make a real difference in our fuel moisture.”
Fire danger in Summit County typically increases in late summer and early fall, persisting until there is permanent snow on the ground. Frost cures grasses and other fine fuels, causing them to dry out and turn brown. Meanwhile, monsoon rains patterns end, and humidity falls, further reducing fuel moisture. Over the next several weeks, fire districts, County officials and U.S. Forest Service personnel will continue to monitor conditions to determine when it is appropriate to lift fire restrictions.
The Summit County Sheriff's Office and the Dillon Ranger District's dispersed recreation crew will be out on the forest enforcing the restrictions and educating campers, hikers and other forest users about activities that are prohibited under Stage 1 fire restrictions.
"Thanks to the voter-approved Strong Future funding, we're able to have a consistent presence out in the community and the forest," Sheriff Jaime FitzSimons said. "Enforcement and education are absolutely critical when our fire danger is elevated."
Stage 1 fire restrictions prohibit building, maintaining, attending or using an open fire. An open fire is defined as any outdoor fire, including but not limited to campfires, warming fires, bonfires or prescribed burns of any material.
The following activities are also prohibited under Stage 1 fire restrictions:
Fires are allowed in constructed, permanent fire pits or fire grates within developed recreation sites, such as campgrounds and picnic areas. Fires are allowed on private property if contained within a commercially designed and manufactured outdoor fireplace or portable outdoor fireplace (including chimeneas) that is assembled, located and operated in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions. Any such device must also meet the following criteria:
Use of gas, charcoal or wood pellet grills are also allowed under Stage 1 restrictions. Wood pile burns are allowed only with all required permits from the local fire protection district and Summit County Environmental Health.
Any of the permitted fire uses and activities must be conducted with the following safety measures in place:
Smoking outdoors is allowed under Stage 1 fire restrictions as long as the individual is at least 3 feet away from any natural vegetation or flammable materials. On U.S. Forest Service lands, smoking is only permitted within an enclosed vehicle or building, a developed recreation site or in a barren area free of vegetation.
Operation of a chainsaw is permitted as long as the operator is equipped with a 2A10BC fire extinguisher available for immediate use. Welding is permitted when the device is at least 15 feet away from any natural vegetation or flammable materials and a 2A10BC fire extinguisher is available for immediate use.