Sheriff’s department strictly enforcing fire ban |

Sheriff’s department strictly enforcing fire ban

Amanda Roberson

SUMMIT COUNTY – Summit County Sheriff’s officers are out enforcing the countywide fire ban, and neither citronella candles nor marshmallow roasts is an exception. Two local citizens received citations for reckless endangerment Sunday, one for burning a citronella “torch” at Green Mountain Reservoir’s Cow Creek North campground, and another for burning a gas fire in a stone fire pit on his own property.

Sheriff’s officer Rebecca Johnson issued both citations on the grounds the citizens violated two clauses added to the county fire ban June 10. The fire ban now “disallows fires within improved campgrounds,” “disallows fires as well as fires in fire pits or fire grates located on private property,” and calls for “no open flames.”

Local restaurateur Travis Holton said he and his wife lit a stainless steel citronella container to keep the bugs away at their Green Mountain Reservoir campsite Sunday. He estimates the flame was 2-1/2 to 3 inches high.

“When we saw the police car drive up, my wife and I said, “Well, we’re in compliance,'” Holton said.

Holton said he told Johnson he was “acting cautiously” because he was on the rock shore of the lake and approximately 50 feet from the water and 300 feet from any ignitable grasslands, according to the police report.

Holton said, too, he and his wife hadn’t brought any firewood to the campsite, just a propane grill and a citronella container, and they had no intention of starting a fire.

Johnson cited Holton for reckless endangerment in violation of the fire ban anyway.

“I was a bit surprised at where they draw the line,” Holton said. “I didn’t argue, but I was disappointed there wasn’t more discretion involved.”

Ironically, Holton’s restaurant, Pug Ryan’s Steakhouse Brewery in Dillon, recently raised $2,000 to support Colorado firefighters.

“The ban says no open flames, even citronella candles,” confirmed Summit County Sheriff’s public information officer Jill Berman. “If a breeze were to come along, there could be some danger there.”

Johnson issued a second citation for reckless endangerment less than two hours after leaving Green Mountain Reservoir.

Phillip Allison Gray was burning a gas fire in a two-foot deep stone fire pit behind his residence.

According to the police report, Gray said he “did not know the fire ban included gas-operated fire pits on private property” and “was just lighting a little fire so his daughters could toast marshmallows.”

Nevertheless, Johnson cited Gray for reckless endangerment in violation of the fire ban, which “disallows fires as well as fires in fire pits or fire grates located on private property.”

Gray could not be reached for comment.

The citations require Holton and Gray to appear in court and face up to six months in a county jail and/or a $750 fine, according to Summit County Assistant District Attorney Mark Hurlbert.

“The fire ban applies to any flame, no matter how it’s generated,” Berman said. “A flame’s a flame’s a flame.”

Summit County

Fire Ban Regulations

(In effect until further notice)

– Banned: Fireworks, sparklers; all open fires, including coal, wood or charcoal – even in established grills and campsites; devices that can create sparks.

– Permitted: Gas and charcoal grills on private property and those in fireplaces or wood stoves; petroleum-fueled stoves, lanterns or heating devices are allowed on public lands, but only in places from which

flammable debris has been cleared.

– Smoking is banned at all Summit County ski resorts.

– People caught violating the bans will be cited. Fines range from $50 to $750 and/or up to six months in jail.

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