Summit County returns to Stage 1 fire restrictions |

Summit County returns to Stage 1 fire restrictions

Summit County will reduce its fire restrictions to Stage 1 effective Friday, Oct. 2.

Officials begrudgingly voted to repeal the Stage 2 restrictions during a special meeting of the Summit Board of County Commissioners on Thursday, Oct. 1, opening the door for residents and visitors to start lighting up permitted backyard campfires again.

While the vote was unanimous, the commissioners voiced that they felt uncomfortable with the move given heavy wildfire activity across the western United States this summer and ongoing drought conditions in the area.

Prohibited under Stage 1 restrictions
  • Building, maintaining, attending or using an open fire
  • Use of fireworks
  • Use of tracer ammunition
  • Use of any projectile containing explosive material, incendiary material or other flammable chemical substance
  • Use of recreational explosives, including explosive targets
  • Disposal of any burning object outdoors, including any cigarette, cigar or match.

“I am very concerned about this,” Commissioner Karn Stiegelmeier said. “I think it’s just wrong. I am looking out my windows, and I can hardly see. I can’t safely breathe because of the smoke from the Williams Fork Fire. And the Williams Fork prediction is for drought conditions and windy conditions into the foreseeable future. …

“We do have longer nights and some colder temperatures. But with climate change, this is not a normal October. This is like September. I just think maybe we’re using old science, and I don’t think it’s really safe.”

Despite some hesitance, the commissioners noted that it was important to maintain consistency with other jurisdictions in the area. Summit County Sheriff Jaime FitzSimons said that all of the other communities in the Upper Colorado River region west of Summit were planning on reducing restrictions at midnight Friday.

The White River National Forest is also set to move into Stage 1 Restrictions on Friday, allowing visitors to start campfires and burn charcoal in metal fire rings in developed campgrounds.

“Consistency with the Forest Service is a very important thing,” Commissioner Thomas Davidson said. “That’s a two-way street. We’ve gotten them to go with us at times, so if we don’t ever go with them, that’s an issue. … Even though emotionally right now, I’m traumatized by a whole summer of god-awful fires out West, and I don’t like the feel of going from Stage 2 to Stage 1, I think it’s important to be mindful with that relationship with the Forest Service and how we do things together.”

County Manager Scott Vargo said the shooting range would be reopened Thursday, Oct. 8, after officials complete an ongoing noise study.

Stage 1 fire restrictions and Summit County’s year-round fire code prohibit any open fires. Fires are allowed in permanent fire pits or grates within developed recreation sites, such as campgrounds and picnic areas. Fires are also allowed on private property if permitted by the local fire districts.  

Summit County’s fire danger level is still very high.

While restrictions are being lowered, officials stay it’s still important for community members to stick to them.

“I would encourage people in Summit County and across the state to continue to abide by and be patient with the fire restrictions,” said Steve Lipsher, spokesperson with Summit Fire & EMS. “Truly, our wildfire danger is very high, and anyone who was in Summit County the last couple days knows that when the Williams Fork Fire blew up, we got some pretty good smoke here. And that’s a pretty graphic reminder of what’s going on still in this state.”

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