Governor enacts statewide fire ban

Caddie Nath
Summit Daily News
Tracy Greenwood embraces her daughter, Mariah Greenwood, as they watch the High Park wildfire burn near their home west of Fort Collins, Colo., on Monday, June 11, 2012. The fire grew to more than 31 square miles within about a day after being reported. It has destroyed or damaged 18 structures and smoke has drifted as far away as central Nebraska, western Kansas and Texas. (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)

Gov. John Hickenlooper followed the lead of local municipalities across the state and Summit County Friday, enacting a ban on open burning and the private use of fireworks for all of Colorado.

Commercial, professional and municipal fireworks displays are still allowed with written approval from the county sheriff in the county where the display is set to take place.

“We can’t completely eliminate the threat of wildfire because there’s no way to control Mother Nature,” Hickenlooper stated in a release Friday. “But we can take steps to reduce the risks of more wildfires starting. This ban is a necessary step to help protect people, property and the beautiful state we live in.”

The Town of Breckenridge decided Tuesday to cancel its annual fireworks display this year unless the county experiences a significant change in weather for the wetter.

Frisco officials have indicated they will proceed with their fireworks display if given approval.

Summit County Sheriff John Minor said he plans to give a thumbs-up to the Frisco fireworks, which are shot off over Dillon Reservoir.

“I have no problem with the Frisco fireworks display,” Minor said. “We shoot these off over a reservoir, and it’s also a huge economic driver.”

Minor said other fireworks around the county, including those normally held at Keystone, will require a closer look.

“I’m not going to make these decisions in a vacuum,” said Minor, who noted that he will consult with fire officials before approving displays.

The news of the statewide fire ban, two weeks ahead of the Fourth of July holiday, came Thursday as the High Park fire in Larimer County grew to 49,000 acres, and 44 of the state’s 64 counties had fire-danger ratings of “high,” “very high” or “extreme.”

Summit County has been at a “very high” rating all week.

The statewide ban does not apply to campfires in constructed, permanent fire pits or fire grates within developed camp and picnic grounds or recreation sites; liquid-fueled or gas-fueled stoves; fireplaces contained within buildings; charcoal grills at private residences; or specific prescribed or controlled burns for agricultural or irrigation purposes, according to a statement from the governor’s office Thursday.

But it also is not intended to supersede the fire bans and restrictions currently in place by all four local towns, the county and the White River National Forest, the statement said.

The order for the ban will be in effect until it is changed or lifted.

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