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Forest Service, BLM, County and towns go to Stage 1 fire restrictions

Lightning has been active

By Kristy Acuff

Gunnison County Commissioners lifted the county’s Stage-2 fire restrictions that have been in place since June 14, and implemented Stage-1 restrictions as of Tuesday, July 17. The action came Tuesday at the county commissioner meeting.

Stage-1 restrictions prohibit campfires except in developed campgrounds with permanent steel fire rings or grates. Stage-1 also prohibits smoking within three feet of combustible material. The local BLM and Forest Service also transitioned back to Stage-1 restrictions for the Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forests.

“It is a good idea to go to Stage-1 restrictions instead of lifting restrictions completely because the forecast is still hot and dry for a period, with only scattered storms,” said Gunnison County emergency manager Scott Morrill.

“And there have been a number of fire starts in recent days, although they were all quickly extinguished,” added county commissioner Jonathan Houck.

“Those recent starts were all caused by lightning. We haven’t had any human starts during the Stage-2 restrictions,” added Dennis Spritzer, Gunnison fire marshal.

The towns of Crested Butte and Mt. Crested Butte follow the county protocol when it comes to fire restrictions.

Stage-1 restrictions also prohibit using chainsaws without a spark arrester and a fire extinguisher and shovel on hand. Welding is prohibited except in cleared areas of at least 10 feet in diameter and when in possession of a fire extinguisher. All explosives, including fireworks, tracer bullets and exploding targets are also prohibited under Stage-1 restrictions. Charcoal grills, hibachis and coal or wood-burning stoves are prohibited. Agricultural burning and burning of trash are also prohibited.

Campstoves, lanterns and heating devices are allowed on public lands. Fires in portable chmineas, fire pits and tiki torches are allowed only on private property.

Crested Butte fire protection district operations chief Rob Weisbaum said even with the reduction of fire restrictions it is important to be careful. “Everyone should continue to be mindful and use good judgment,” he said.

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