Fire ban goes into effect Thursday for Grand County; fire danger currently moderate
- Open burning and open fires including campfires, recreational fires, cooking fires and portable outdoor fires among others.
- Smoking, except within an enclosed vehicle or building, at developed recreation sites, or in areas with at least a six-foot diameter of barren ground.
- Use of chainsaws without approved spark arrestors.
- The operation of welding or acetylene torches except when used in areas with at least a 10-foot diameter of barren ground.
- Fireworks except for professional fireworks displays.
- Professional fireworks displays.
- Liquid or gas fueled appliances.
- Permanent or portable outdoor fireplaces, barbecue pits or charcoal grills at private residences or in developed parks or campgrounds.
Fire restrictions will be in place later this week across Grand County following the decision made Tuesday by county commissioners to approve a stage one fire ban for the area until further notice.
The ban, which goes into effect at 4 p.m. Thursday, restricts open burning and open fires including campfires, recreational fires, cooking fires and portable outdoor fires among others. Smoking, except within an enclosed vehicle or building, at developed recreation sites, or in areas with at least a six-foot diameter of barren ground, is also restricted.
The use of chainsaws without approved spark arrestors is also banned along with the operation of welding or acetylene torches except when used in areas with at least a 10-foot diameter of barren ground.
Professional fireworks displays, liquid or gas fueled appliances and permanent or portable outdoor fireplaces, barbecue pits or charcoal grills at private residences or in developed parks or campgrounds are still permitted under the stage one restrictions.
Though the restrictions are made for unincorporated Grand County, the towns of Granby, Winter Park, Fraser and Grand Lake automatically adopt whatever fire restrictions the county imposes, and Kremmling has instituted its own stage one restrictions, meaning Thursday’s restrictions will apply to the entire county.
The Bureau of Land Management and Routt National Forest have also implemented stage one fire restrictions for lands in Grand County.
Grand County’s commissioners held a conference call with local fire officials, a representative of the U.S. Forest Service and Grand County Sheriff Brett Schroetlin during their regular meeting Tuesday afternoon to discuss the potential for adopting a fire ban. At the outset of the discussion, Schroetlin noted that the Standardized Federal Fire Matrix — a formalized checklist fire officials rely upon when determining the need for fire restrictions — currently does not meet levels necessitating fire restrictions.
If thresholds are met in at least four of the seven categories on the fire matrix, officials will typically look to implement fire restrictions. Grand County currently only meets three of the factors, according to Schroetlin.
While several surrounding counties have made the decision to institute fire restrictions, Schroetlin said decisions made by other counties should not affect the decision made for Grand County. He initially recommended against instituting a fire ban, due in large part to the fire matrix.
Brad White and Schelly Olson of the Grand Fire Protection District echoed Schroetlin’s recommendation against implementing a ban.
Fire danger in Grand County, as reported by the Craig Interagency Dispatch Center on Tuesday, stood at moderate. Though White said he believed conditions could worsen over the remainder of the week, leading into the Fourth of July next Wednesday. Weather forecasts, however, show a potential for rain early next week that could improve the fire outlook.
“We are happy to support whatever needs to happen,” White said, as he and Olson told commissioners that Grand County is getting close to the point where indicators and fire danger levels would warrant restrictions.
U.S. Forest District Ranger John Morrissey told commissioners that Forest Service personnel have encountered a high number of unattended and abandoned campfires recently, which he highlighted as a significant concern.
Why the timing?
Grand County is a popular destination for residents and visitors over the Fourth of July holiday, which brings an increased risk for fires.
County commissioners, who regularly meet on Tuesdays, will not have a meeting July 3 due to the holiday so this week was the final chance for them to approve restrictions without an emergency meeting.
Commissioner Merrit Linke stressed his concerns about potential fire outbreaks and said he would like to see stage one restrictions implemented, and that waiting to implement a ban ahead of the busy weekend and week would limit time to educate the public on the restrictions.
“What we don’t want to do is slam the brakes on early next week,” White said. “If we are going to do restrictions this is the week to do it.”
Schroetlin reiterated White’s point.
“We are not at the level of restrictions in my mind yet, however taking into account the busy weekend and weather, I’d rather err on the side of caution,” Schroetlin said. “Don’t do it last minute.”
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