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Fire restrictions in place

BOB BERWYNsummit daily news

Summit County, CO ColoradoSUMMIT COUNTY Because of dry and windy conditions, the county commissioners and most of Summit Countys towns have enacted Level 1 fire restrictions to prevent ignition of dangerous wildfires. County restrictions take effect Saturday.Open fires are limited to designated fire rings at improved campgrounds and to self-contained outdoor fire devices and fire pits with screen covers on private property, as long as they are placed on a concrete or asphalt surface.Indoor fires, as well as liquid and gas-fueled stoves, are also exempted from the ban.Charcoal-fueled fires are allowed on private property, but must be under constant supervision, with fire suppression equipment on-hand. Charcoal fires in a fire pit on private property most be reported to Summit County dispatch at (970) 668-8600, while charcoal fires in a contained metal grill are OK, according to Sheriffs Office spokesperson Paulette Horr.

Frisco adopted similar fire restrictions this week, also giving the town manager the ability to post a temporary fire ban without a town council vote. Town officials are also urging users of town-owned open space and parks not to smoke, or to be very careful when disposing of cigarette butts.For now, Friscos holiday fireworks display is still scheduled, but the town and local fire authorities will probably make a final decision by June 29.Silverthornes fire chief also enacted fire restrictions consistent with the countys, said town manager Kevin Batchelder.Breckenridge beefed up its open fire ordinance a few weeks ago, restricting outdoor fires to gas or charcoal grills. Any other type of outdoor burning, including in fire pits on private property, is prohibited.Dillon will likely adopt fire restrictions in the next few days.

The U.S. Forest Service will adopt similar restrictions beginning Saturday, said Dillon District Ranger Rick Newton. Fires on national forest land will be limited to designated fire rings at developed campgrounds. No fires will be allowed at dispersed camping areas in user-built fire rings, he said.Camp stoves are still permitted for backcountry use, Newton said.We definitely need people to be cautious out there. This is the time of year that fires start easily and are hard to contain, Newton said. Its a good time to remind people that fireworks are not allowed on national forest lands, Newton said.Lightning may have sparked a small grass fire between Silverthorne and Mesa Cortina that was quickly extinguished earlier this week, Newton said.National forest visitors are responsible for knowing what the rules are, Newton said.More dry and windy weather is in the forecast, with the potential for lightning strikes from high-based thunderstorms that dont bring much rain a volatile combination that keeps local firefighters on the edge of their seats.Plentiful winter snows and a moist spring helped spur a lush growth of grass which is now drying out to a point that it can carry a fire into dangerous areas. Especially at risk are hundreds of acres of beetle-killed lodgepole pines still carrying highly flammable red needles. A fire spreading into one of those areas near populated neighborhoods could quickly lead to a full-blown disaster scenario.The county fire ban is enforced by the Summit County Sheriffs Office with penalties ranging from a $150 fine for the first offense to $500 for the second offense and $1,000 for all subsequent offenses. Penalties for violations of town restrictions are similar.Call (970) 468-5400 for information on Forest Service fire restrictions.Information on the Summit County fire restrictions is available through the Sheriffs Office at (970) 453-2232. Bob Berwyn can be reached at (970) 331-5996, or at bberwyn@summitdaily.com.


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