Routt County enacts Stage 2 fire restrictions
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Stage 2 fire restrictions will take effect after midnight on Thursday throughout Routt County following a Tuesday vote from the Routt County Board of Commissioners.
This comes amid a long period of hot, dry conditions that have led to multiple large fires still ablaze in Northwest Colorado. Those include the Pine Gulch, Grizzly Creek, Cameron Peak and Williams Fork fires.
For the first time in eight years, all of Colorado is suffering from drought or abnormally dry conditions, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.
Under Stage 2 fire restrictions, the following activities are prohibited:
- All open fires and campfires except petroleum-fueled stoves, lanterns and approved heating devices
- Using explosive material (i.e.: fireworks, blasting caps or any incendiary device that could result in the ignition of flammable material)
- Outdoor smoking except within an enclosed vehicle or building
- Welding, or operating an acetylene or other similar torch with open flame
- Operating or using a chainsaw and other internal combustion engine without a spark arresting device properly installed, maintained and in effective working order
- Using tracer rounds or incendiary targets
Routt County issued a fire watch for Wednesday due to forecasts of dry thunderstorms that could spark additional wildfires. Wind gusts up to 30 mph could cause a rapid spread of any flames.
The decision to move from Stage 1 to Stage 2 restrictions came after the Routt County Office of Emergency Management met with the chiefs of the county’s fire protection districts and the Routt County Sheriff. They all are in agreement that the tighter restrictions are warranted, according to David “Mo” DeMorat, the county’s emergency operations director. In a document sent to the commissioners, the fire chiefs said they have not seen the area so dry since 2002, when the Mount Zirkel complex wildfire burned more than 31,000 acres.
“With no significant precipitation in the forecast through the week, it is not expected that conditions will improve,” DeMorat said in a comment to the commissioners.
A set of seven indices determines the degree of fire restrictions, such as the amount of dry vegetation and weather predictions. As of Tuesday, conditions in the county triggered four of those indices, according to DeMorat. Considering all of the large fires around Routt County, DeMorat said firefighting resources could be stretched thin if more fires erupt. For that reason, he wanted to be proactive and lower the risk of more blazes.
“Should we have another large fire break out, particularly in Routt County, it may be difficult to get the resources to contain that as quickly as possible,” DeMorat told the commissioners.
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At 7 p.m. Thursday, the Yampa River’s temperature was 72 degrees at a spot in the Chuck Lewis Wildlife Area south of Steamboat. That’s about 15 degrees higher than the typical average.