Routt County asks residents to prep for wildfire season in pandemic era; restrictions start Friday
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Routt County’s emergency director is asking the public to stay vigilant during fire season as the extra burden of a pandemic is bound to complicate any disasters.
“We’re taking precautions to be sure everyone’s aware and taking this seriously, so we’re not compounding any COVID issues out there,” said David “Mo” DeMorat, the county’s emergency operation director.
For example, when wildfires displace residents, the Red Cross would normally set up evacuation shelters. But this year, the Red Cross volunteers are reaching out to hotels in areas prone to wildfires to see what kind of availability they could offer vulnerable communities.
DeMorat also said when motels aren’t available, the Red Cross will look at ways to keep congregate shelters, like a gym, safe with social distancing rules.
DeMorat said there are several ways residents can prepare for wildfire season to make things go smoother including planning ahead and registering for emergency alerts through routtcountyalerts.com.
Fire restrictions start July 3 for national forests
Stage 1 fire restrictions will go into effect Friday for the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forests and Thunder Basin National Grassland.
According to a news release for the U.S. Forest Service, no building, maintaining, attending or using a fire, campfire or stove fire, which includes barbecues, grills and portable braziers will be allowed, except when using a fire in constructed, permanent fire pits or fire grates in developed sites. Portable stoves, lanterns using gas, jellied petroleum, pressurized liquid fuel or a fully enclosed (sheepherder type) stove with a 1/4 inch spark arrester type screen are also permitted.
- Register for emergency alerts through routtcountyalerts.com.
- Develop or review family emergency plan: identify valuables to grab at a moment’s notice, know evacuation routes and review plan with family members.
- Wildfire mitigation: clear brush and other flammable materials near home.
No smoking is allowed, except within an enclosed vehicle or building, a developed recreate site or while stopped in an area at least 3 feet in diameter that is barren or cleared of all flammable material.
Operating a chainsaw, welding and operating acetylene or other torches with open flame are not allowed unless strict guidelines are followed. No explosives are allowed.
Find additional information at fs.usda.gov/main/mbr/home.
Frances Hohl is a contributing writer for Steamboat Pilot & Today.
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