Man starts illegal campfire, flees from police
Officials with Summit’s fire districts are hoping to remind people that Stage 1 fire restrictions are still in place following the arrest of a man who started an illegal campfire and fled from police last week.
On Sept. 7, deputies with the Summit County Sheriff’s Office contacted a man past the U.S. Forest Service access gate near Boreas Pass Road after he allegedly started an illegal campfire.
According to the arrest affidavit, officers informed the man that he was in violation of the open fire ban, and asked for his name. The suspect allegedly gave officers a fake name and attempted to run from police. He was later arrested walking along Boreas Pass Road, and charged with attempting to influence a public servant, obstructing a peace officer and violating the countywide ban on open fires. According to officials, illegal fires have been a minor issue since the ban began last month.
“It’s still been an issue,” said Chief Jim Keating, of the Red, White and Blue Fire Protection District. “We’ve been hearing this year — and it’s really nothing unusual — that there have been people who have been told by forest rangers not to start fires, who wait for the rangers to leave and light them anyway. … Forest rangers’ ability to do anything beyond a simple warning is pretty limited. So in those cases, they’re turning it over to the sheriff’s office to send a message that when they’re told not to light a fire in an illegal area, they don’t.
While the county’s fire danger level dropped from very high to moderate earlier this week, the fire restrictions are still in place until they’re removed by county and town officials.
Keating said that with temperatures cooling, any new moisture could spell the end of the restrictions. County, state and Forest Service officials discuss restrictions each Tuesday, and Keating said he wouldn’t be surprised to see the restrictions dropped in the next week or two.
“I appreciate, for the most part, the cooperation we’ve had from the public,” Keating said. “We’d normally be issuing permits for slash burns and all that, and we’ve had a lot of people expecting that and calling in. But they’ve been receptive and understanding, and we appreciate that.”
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