Summit County set to move into Stage 1 fire restrictions Friday |

Summit County set to move into Stage 1 fire restrictions Friday

The move prohibits open fires and fireworks, among other things

The Buffalo Mountain Fire in June 2018 prompted the county and local towns to join into an intergovernmental agreement, which unifies language in fire restrictions. As the county adopts Stage 1 restrictions Friday, June 18, so will local towns, including Breckenridge, and the U.S. Forest Service.
Photo from Summit Fire & EMS

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct that the county voted to abolish year-round fire restrictions in May.

During a Summit Board of County Commissioners work session meeting Tuesday, June 15, the board approved a resolution to move the county into Stage 1 fire restrictions, which prohibit open fires, fireworks and smoking in undesignated areas, among other things.

Earlier this year, Summit County officials made changes to the way fire restrictions are implemented in the county. For the past two years, the county and its towns operated under year-round fire restrictions, which prohibited things like open fires, fireworks and more.

In May, Summit County officials voted to abolish these year-round restrictions and implement Stage 1 and Stage 2 restrictions only if three of four criteria are met:

  • Energy-release component of 90% to 96% in past five days
  • High human-caused risk
  • Live fuel moistures at or approaching historic thresholds
  • No significant relief in fire weather in seven-day forecast

During the board’s meeting Tuesday, Summit County Sheriff Jaime FitzSimons reported that all four criteria had been met and that the county should move into Stage 1 restrictions.

“There is some talk of a colder front moving in this weekend, but Summit County currently looks like we’re in the doughnut, where we won’t get the moisture. We’ll probably get the lightning,” FitzSimons said. “When we look at our matrix of what puts us in Stage 1 restrictions … we need at least three of them, and we’ve checked all the boxes. I’m here this morning to tell you that we are there.”

FitzSimons recommended that the restrictions take effect Friday, June 18, which coincides with when the Dillon Ranger District of the White River National Forest plans to implement its own fire restrictions.

When County Commissioner Elisabeth Lawrence asked whether the towns of Breckenridge and Blue River would be adopting restrictions, too, Summit County Manager Scott Vargo said Breckenridge planned to do so and that he assumed Blue River would, as well. The towns of Dillon, Silverthorne and Frisco adopted Stage 1 fire restrictions last week.

Currently, the county and towns have an intergovernmental agreement, which aimed to create consistent language and policies countywide, regardless of jurisdiction.

As the county moves into Stage 1 restrictions, FitzSimons said it might not be long before moving into Stage 2 restrictions, which could happen within the next few weeks.

“Just be aware that we are quickly approaching Stage 2 thresholds. … I can tell you that these fuel moistures are unprecedented at how quickly they’re spiking and jumping and drying out,” FitzSimons said. “So we’re watching those carefully.”

FitzSimons noted that the change to Stage 2 restrictions likely wouldn’t happen within the next 15 days and that the availability of resources would determine how the county moves between the two stages. Above all, he said the move into Stage 2 restrictions depends on what happens weather-wise in Summit County this week.

During the meeting, County Commissioner Josh Blanchard noted that many residents and organizations have been noting the dry conditions in the county and urged leadership to move swiftly.

“I just urge us to go as quickly as we can on what makes sense in aligning with our partners,” Blanchard said. “We’ve all had folks reach out to us — most recently some of our different climate specialists and water lobbyist have reached out — and echoed what you’ve said, that it’s unprecedented times with soil moistures and inflow streams and how this is affecting our environment, so I would just say the sooner we can move, the better.”

Both Lawrence and County Commissioner Tamara Pogue agreed that the risk of wildfires poses a great risk to the community.

“I understand the psychological benefits of these regulations to our community and certainly appreciate them, but folks need to make good decisions here, and that means, even though we’re in Phase 1, we should be acting personally like we are in a very severe wildfire risk and questioning how important it is to have that fire, even if it’s in an enclosed area,” Pogue said.

FitzSimons said he plans to engage with local partners daily to discuss restrictions and whether they need to be loosened or tightened. For more information about what is and is not prohibited under Stage 1 restrictions, visit

“We can’t control this unless every individual really takes personal responsibility to the highest point that they possibly can,” Pogue said.

Prohibited under Stage 1 restrictions

• Open fires — such as campfires, warming fires and bonfires — except those that have been permitted by a local fire district or are in permanent fire pits or fire grates within developed recreation sites

• Smoking except in an enclosed vehicle or building, designated outdoor areas where smoking is permitted or while stopped in an area that is at least 3 feet in diameter and barren or cleared of all flammable material

• The use and sale of recreational fireworks

• The use of tracer ammunition and recreational explosives

• Disposal of any burning object outdoors, including a cigarette, cigar or match

• Chain saws except those with an approved spark arrester properly installed and in working order with a chemical, pressurized fire extinguisher and shovel readily available for use

• Commercial and industrial blasting or welding operations, except in a cleared area of at least 10 feet in diameter with a chemical, pressurized fire extinguisher readily available for use

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