U.S. Forest Service enacts fire restrictions for Colorado’s White River National Forest | SummitDaily.com

U.S. Forest Service enacts fire restrictions for Colorado’s White River National Forest

Randy Wyrick rwyrick@vaildaily.com

The Gutzler Fire (pictured) is currently estimated to cover 97 acres near Kremmling.

The Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service today announced fire restrictions for the entire White River National Forest. The BLM said the restrictions apply to Forest Service and BLM administered land, unincorporated land and private land in Summit, Eagle and Rio Blanco counties. Fire restrictions are already in effect in Mesa, Garfield, and Pitkin counties.

Fire managers base decisions about fire restrictions on specific moisture measurements in vegetation and other risk factors such as predicted weather and amount of current fire activity, the BLM said in a press release.

Thursday morning’s announcement came on the heels of weeks of dry, windy weather and a string of wildfires across the West, including the Peak 2 Fire in Breckenridge and the Gutzler fire in remote northern Eagle County.

That Gutzler fire is one of nine new fires that joined 34 large active fires across the Western U.S., said the U.S. Forest Service. Those nine fires have burned more than 224,000 acres.

So far in 2017, more than 30,000 fires have burned over 3 million acres in the U.S., according to a Natural Resource Conservation Service report.

That report says Western Colorado has received almost none of the average precipitation expected this time of year.

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“Across the West, generally hot and dry conditions prevailed,” said David Simeral, with the NRCS’ Western Regional Climate Center.

Other fires around the region

The Hogback Fire near Newcastle is considered largely contained, reported the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office.

In Routt County, the Mill Creek fire has grown to more than 270 acres. The Mill Creek fire started Saturday on private property, but has since spread to public land.

Lightning sparked the East Rim fire on Saturday, seven miles north of Dove Creek, near Durango.

What fire restrictions mean

• Campfires are only allowed within designated fire grates in developed campgrounds (metal, in-ground containment structure. Fire pans and rock campfire rings are not acceptable).

• No fires of any type, including charcoal, outside of developed areas.

• No smoking except within an enclosed vehicle or building, a developed recreation site or in a barren area free of vegetation.

• No use of explosive materials, including explosive targets.

• No welding or operation of an acetylene or other similar torch with open flame, or any other spark producing device, except from an area that has been cleared of vegetation.

• No operation of any internal combustion engine without a spark-arresting device properly installed and in working order.

• Fireworks are always prohibited on BLM, National Forest and National Park Service lands.

• If you violate federal fire restrictions, you could be fined up to $100,000 and a year in prison. If you start a wildfire, you could be ordered to pay the cost of fire suppression.

Source: Eagle County Sheriff’s Office