Routt County officials hold off on enacting Stage 2 fire restrictions
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Thanks to recent moisture, Routt County officials have decided to hold off on stricter fire restrictions for now.
The Routt County Board of Commissioners met Tuesday to consider going from Stage 1 to Stage 2 fire restrictions.
Stage 2 restrictions would have banned all campfires, even those at established campsites. Also under Stage 2 restrictions, smoking is prohibited except for within an enclosed vehicle or building. Chainsaws and other equipment powered by an internal combustion engine would have also been banned.
Recent rains helped persuade fire officials against recommending Stage 2 restrictions.
Between Thursday morning and Sunday morning, weather stations around the county reported receiving between 0.24 to 0.86 inches of precipitation.
On Monday night, Routt County Emergency Management Director David “Mo” DeMorat received the latest fire danger measurements, which are comprised of seven different criteria.
At one point, Routt County met five of the seven criteria for implementing fire restrictions. Currently, the area meets two of those criteria — low fuel moisture and the United States Drought Monitor rating, which ranks Northwest Colorado as being in severe drought.
DeMorat spoke with four of the five local fire district chiefs when deciding whether or not to recommend going to Stage 2 restrictions.
“They had the same recommendation,” DeMorat said. “Stay at Stage 1.”
Routt County Commissioner Doug Monger questioned whether the Stage 1 restrictions were still necessary given the recent rain.
“That could mean we should take off the fire restrictions, period,” Monger said.
DeMorat said that was not recommended, especially with dry and hot weather forecast for this week.
There is currently one large fire burning in the Routt National Forest.
As of Tuesday morning, the Silver Creek Fire had burned 2,061 acres, and the Sarvis Creek Wilderness remains closed. It is believed that lightning caused the fire, which was reported July 19.
Smoke and haze in the Yampa Valley are still being caused by fires in Northern California and Eastern Utah.
The smoke prompted the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to issue a new air quality health advisory effective through Wednesday morning.
Routt County is measuring the local air quality.
“It’s not a health emergency, but it’s something you need to think about if you’re going out to exercise,” Routt County Environmental Health Director Scott Cowman said.
The diminished air quality is particularly dangerous for those dealing with heart disease and respiratory illnesses as well as the very young and the elderly. Those individuals should avoid prolonged exposure or exertion.
Those living in areas where moderate to heavy smoke is present should also limit outdoor activity, keep windows closed in the car and at home and use the recycle air feature on car air conditioners.
Smoke has reached unhealthy levels when visibility is less than five miles.
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