Routt County ponders Stage 2 fire restrictions
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS— Routt County officials will consider advancing fire restrictions in unincorporated portions of Routt County to Stage 2 fire restrictions this week.
There are two levels of restrictions, Stage 1 and Stage 2, according to the Colorado Division of Prevention and Control.
Stage 1 restrictions
• Building, maintaining, attending, or using a fire or campfire except within a developed recreation site or improved site.
• Smoking, except within an enclosed vehicle or building, a developed recreation site or while stopped in an area at least three feet in diameter that is barren or cleared of all flammable materials.
• Operating or using any internal or external combustion engine without a spark-arresting device properly installed, maintained and in effective working order.
Stage 2 restrictions
• All Stage 1 restrictions apply.
• Building, maintaining, attending, or using a fire or campfire.
• Smoking, except within an enclosed vehicle or building.
• Possessing, discharging or using any kind of firework or other pyrotechnic device.
• Using an explosive.
• Operating a chainsaw or other equipment powered by an internal combustion engine between 1:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m.
• Welding, or operating an acetylene or other torch with open flame
• Possess or use a motor vehicle off-road, except when parking in an area devoid of vegetation within 10 feet of the roadway and except for parking overnight in developed campgrounds and at trailheads.
Stage 3 restrictions close an area to everyone but those with permits, authorities and people who live in the area.
“We do perceive there being a trend developing that would lead us to go into Stage 2, but we’re not necessarily at that tipping point yet,” said Routt County Emergency Operations Director David “Mo” DeMorat.
If enacted, Stage 2 restrictions would take effect Wednesday morning.
Each week, local, state and federal fire managers from around Northwest Colorado discuss conditions, DeMorat said. Fire restrictions are implemented based on seven criteria, including the number of active fires in the area and the amount of moisture in fuels. The call will help determine how many of these criteria Routt County meets and if a more restrictive fire ban is warranted, DeMorat added.
A county fire restriction would apply only to unincorporated parts of Routt County, though municipalities and federal public lands would likely see a similar advancement of fire restrictions should Stage 2 restrictions be implemented in the county.
After Tuesday’s call, DeMorat will present the information to the Routt County Commissioners, who will consider an ordinance enacting the restrictions.
Forest Service Spokesperson Aaron Voos said the agency is working “hand in hand” with the counties that would be impacted should Routt National Forest enact Stage 2 restrictions.
“It’s hard to think about on a day like today when it’s just been raining and gloomy and overcast and cool all day,” Voos said Friday. “But, it’s supposed to get dry again next week, so that’s what we’re looking at.”
Stage 1 fire restrictions have been in place since June 29 in Routt County, the city of Steamboat Springs, and U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management lands. Nearby, Rio Blanco and Jackson counties have entered Stage 2 restrictions.
DeMorat recommended Routt County residents sign up for emergency alerts online by visiting the Office of Emergency Management’s website.
“If we can’t reach you, we can’t alert you,” he said.
DeMorat also encouraged people to be aware of fire bans.
“Little things like smoking — throwing cigarette butts out the window — those things can cause fires, so just be aware of the dry conditions out there and what you’re doing,” he said. For more information about fire restrictions in Routt County, or to learn where to apply for a permit to have a fire, call the Office of Emergency Management at 970-870-5549.
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