Summit County lifts Stage 1 fire ban; White River National Forest plans to ease its fire ban Friday | SummitDaily.com

Summit County lifts Stage 1 fire ban; White River National Forest plans to ease its fire ban Friday

Fire danger as of Wednesday, Sept. 5, in Breckenridge.

Months-long fire restrictions are falling like timber across Summit County as the Board Of County Commissioners decided on Tuesday to remove the Stage 1 restrictions in unincorporated areas of the county.

The county's decision to remove Stage 1 fire restrictions, announced on Wednesday, maintains consistency with other local jurisdictions in and around Summit County, including U.S. Forest Service lands.

Shortly after the county's decision, Breckenridge announced that Mayor Eric Mamula signed a proclamation Wednesday, also removing the town's Stage 1 fire restrictions. Soon after, officials in Frisco, Silverthorne and Dillon confirmed they too have all lifted the restrictions.

Over the phone, officials with the U.S. Forest Service said on Wednesday that they are planning to lift the Stage 1 restrictions across the White River National Forest at 12:01 a.m. Friday.

Urging caution, those same officials say the eased rules shouldn't lead anyone to believe Summit's out of the woods just yet. Even though recent conditions have been favorable, they've noticed Colorado's "unofficial second burn season" often extends well into October.

"It's hard to pin down exactly when and every year can be a little different, but we've had fires the last three fall seasons," recalled Adam Bianchi of the Dillon Ranger District.

He explained the danger for wildfires doesn't really subside until the snow comes in earnest. Should the county experience less favorable conditions in the coming weeks, he added, they're all prepared to revisit the fire bans.

Stage 1 fire restrictions prohibit almost every open fire, including but not limited to campfires, warming fires, bonfires or prescribed burns of any material.

Smoking is also prohibited under Stage 1 fire bans, unless done in an enclosed vehicle or building, developed recreation site or while stopped in a place clear of all flammable materials for at least a 3-foot diameter.

Across Colorado, the implementation of restrictions designed to prevent wildfires comes from a patchwork of local, county and federal governments, which often work together on fire prevention but maintain independent authority over their own jurisdictions.

According to Summit County's announcement, the nearby counties of Garfield, Pitkin and Eagle also plan to lift Stage 1 restrictions this week. Mesa County has already done that, removing the Stage 1 fire ban on Aug. 31 ahead of the Labor Day weekend.

Adjacent to Summit County, Clear Creek and Grand counties remain at Stage 1. Grand County's commissioners decided to keep the restrictions in place when they met Tuesday and will re-evaluate the situation again next week, according to a town employee. South of Summit, Park County ended its restrictions in late July.

"Our energy-release component has dropped below the 75th percentile, and we've made it through the Labor Day Weekend, which is our last big burst of summer recreational activity out in the forest," Summit County Sheriff Jaime FitzSimons said in a statement.

Bianchi said heavy traffic over the holiday weekend was only one factor in deciding to keep the restrictions in place until this week. They watch the weather, available fuels and a host of other factors, including social influences like holiday travel, when deciding when fire bans are most appropriate.

The forecast looks good for now, but the restrictions could easily be imposed again if things change, Bianchi said. They'll be keeping an eye on these factors moving into the hunting season, as the nights get colder and people braving the great outdoors will be wanting to keep warm by building a fire.

"We get that, but you still have to be safe with fires and put them out," he said. "Even though we're pulling the restrictions, it doesn't mean the risk of fire is gone."

For more information on campfire safety, go to SummitCountyCO.gov/wildfire.

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Tips from the US Forest Service

Although fire restrictions have been lifted, fire managers would are reminding people to continue to be attentive of their actions and surroundings, especially in areas with dry vegetation or dead trees. Practice smart wildfire prevention behavior by observing the following campfire safety rules:

• Never leaving a campfire unattended.

• Only use established campfire rings.

• Pick safe and proper campfire sites.

• Ensure that camp fires are completely out and cool to the touch by using the “drown, stir and feel” methods.

Source: U.S. Forest Service

Breckenridge Fire Code

Per Breckenridge town code, the following fires are always restricted in the town:

• Open burning of cut trees, limbs, slash, vegetation or lumber.

• Bonfires, rubbish fires or other fires in outdoor locations in which fuels are not contained in an incinerator.

• Any open fire not in an approved liquid- or gas-fueled stove; fireplace or stove located within a fully enclosed building or structure; charcoal grill located at a private residence; commercially manufactured outdoor fireplace operated in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.

Source: Town of Breckenridge