Summit County outlines fire restrictions: Here’s what’s allowed and prohibited
KEYSTONE — Summit County officials are urging residents and visitors to be cautious and vigilant as the community moves deeper into wildfire season.
Earlier this year, Summit County and the towns of Silverthorne, Frisco, Dillon, Breckenridge and Blue River collectively approved and adopted new year-round fire codes, and officials are asking residents to familiarize themselves with the regulations before heading to the backcountry or lighting backyard campfires.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has consumed a great deal of our collective attention and energy,” Commissioner Elisabeth Lawrence said in a news release. “But that doesn’t mean our vulnerability to wildfire has gone away. Wildfire prevention and mitigation need to have a prominent place on our radar.”
The Dillon Ranger District of the White River National Forest enacted Stage 1 fire restrictions near the end of May, and the restrictions largely mirror those in the county’s year-round regulations. Both codes prohibit building, maintaining, attending or using an open fire, aside from strictly regulated agricultural and slash-burn piles conducted with permits and under appropriate fire-danger conditions.
Both also allow fires in permanent fire pits or grates within developed recreation sites, such as campgrounds and picnic areas.
Summit County allows recreational fires on private property with proper permitting from the local fire districts. Permitting requires fires be kept within a commercially manufactured outdoor fireplace, chimenea or fire pit, all of which require an ember screen. Natural gas and propane-fueled fire tables and fireplaces with an on/off switch don’t require permits.
- Building, maintaining, attending or using an open fire
- Use or sale of fireworks
- Use of tracer ammunition
- Use of any projectile containing explosive material, incendiary material or other flammable chemical substance
- Recreational explosives, explosive targets
- Disposal of any burning object outdoors, including cigarettes, cigars and matches
Fires also must be at least 15 feet away from any flammable material or structure and can’t be bigger than 3-feet wide and 2-feet tall. Individuals also must make sure the area underneath the fire is barren and can burn only nontoxic fuel sources like wood and charcoal.
Residents and property owners can obtain free permits using their respective district’s Community Connect pages. The Summit Fire & EMS response area includes Copper, Dillon, Frisco, Keystone, Montezuma, Summit Cove, Silverthorne, Wildernest, Mesa Corina and the Lower Blue Valley. The Red, White & Blue Fire Protection District service area includes all of the greater Breckenridge area, from Farmers Korner to Hoosier Pass. Both districts require an on-site inspection to ensure compliance.
“This new permitting system allows Summit County residents to have a backyard fire in a safe and responsible manner,” county Emergency Management Director Brian Bovaird said in the release. “Previously, when we went into Stage 1 fire restrictions, recreational fires on private properties were not allowed. Now we have many common-sense restrictions on fire activity all year-round, while letting people enjoy a small fire safely. This new approach is a great step forward for our wildfire prevention efforts, and it streamlines and unifies all the fire regulations across jurisdictions in the county.”
Officials are discouraging fires during periods of high fire danger, though anyone choosing to start one should constantly attend the fire and make sure it’s extinguished and cool to the touch before leaving. A supervising adult also must be available for the immediate use of a fire extinguisher, garden hose or 5 gallons of water.
Under Stage 2 fire restrictions no recreational fires will be allowed on private property or U.S. Forest Service land, including campgrounds. For more information, visit SummitCountyCO.gov/wildfire.
- Smoking outdoors at least 3 feet away from natural vegetation of flammable materials
- Forest Service allows smoking in enclosed vehicles or buildings, developed recreation sites or barren areas
- Summit County allows operation of a chain saw, mower and similar internal-combustion engine equipment
- Must have approved spark-arresting device and fire extinguisher
- Welding with a proper permit
- Must be at least 15 feet away from natural vegetation and flammable materials and have a fire extinguisher
The Red White & Blue Fire Protection District doesn’t allow slash pile burns from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Summit Fire & EMS allows burns with a permit, depending on conditions.
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