State fire ban lifted; local bans still in effect
SUMMIT COUNTY – Gov. Bill Owens lifted the statewide ban on open burning Thursday, but open fires are still banned in Summit County under U.S. Forest Service and county government bans.
According to state forester Jim Hubbard, lower temperatures, rain and higher humidity have made the fire danger throughout the state less severe, and fires could be easier to control.
Of higher concern this fall is the danger of landslides where wildfires have burned off foliage. Summit County experienced about six wildland fires this year, including two small fires in the Tenmile Range, a three-acre fire in the north end of the county, a small one on a hillside below the Dillon Dam and a grass fire near the high school earlier this month.
The danger is still too high to allow people to have open fires in Summit County, County Commissioner Gary Lindstrom said.
“I think the governor is responding to the large majority of the state that isn’t a major hazard,” he said. “I think there are plenty of areas that are still pretty dry.”
Summit County has had three consecutive days of sporadic rainfall – and even some light snow. Lindstrom said it would take a week or two of rain before he’d be convinced to lift the local ban.
The statewide ban was imposed June 4.
More than a half-million acres have burned in Colorado this summer. The largest, the Hayman Fire, started June 8 about 40 miles southwest of Denver and destroyed 133 homes while burning 137,000 acres before it was contained.
More than 2,000 wildfires were reported throughout the state, but most were extinguished before they got to 10 acres, said Dan Hopkins, spokesman for the Governor’s Office.
Some fires are still burning, including the Mount Zirkel complex near Steamboat Springs, which has burned 31,016 acres and was 95 percent contained Thursday; the Big Fish fire, a 17,056-acre conflagration near the Flat Tops Wilderness; and the 5,538-acre Lost Lake fire in the same area. The latter two are being allowed to burn to reduce the amount of fuel on the forest floor. Firefighters will let the fire burn until it starts to threaten buildings or other private property.
Jane Stebbins can be reached at (970) 668-3998 ext. 228 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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