News Flash

Summit County Government

Posted on: June 15, 2021

Summit County Enters Stage 1 Fire Restrictions

Straight Creek Wildfire

Open fires are prohibited including campfires, bonfires, and fireworks

Contact: Nicole Valentine, Director of Communications, Summit County

SUMMIT COUNTY – The Summit County Board of Commissioners enacted Stage 1 Fire Restrictions, effective at 12:01 a.m. Friday, June 18. The commissioners enacted the change during a special meeting Tuesday, in recognition of the extremely high fire danger resulting from record-breaking temperatures this past week and decreased precipitation, which has led to early season wildfire activity in the county, including the Straight Creek fire, which occurred this past Thursday and was just brought under control over the weekend.

“These restrictions are necessary given the extreme fire conditions and no relief from the weather in the forecast. Career wildfire professionals commented to me during the Straight Creek fire that it broke all the rules occurring so early in the season in a drainage with a running creek. We have unprecedented conditions now for wildfire,” Summit County Sheriff Jaime FitzSimons said. “We need to do all we can to prevent additional human caused fires, and we really need the public to be extremely cognizant of the fire danger.”

The county has now met all four conditions in the Fire Restriction Process utilized by Summit County and the U.S. Forest Service to determine when to implement Stage 1 restrictions:

  • Energy release component 90-96% last 5 days with representative sig groups 
  • High human caused risk
  • Live fuel moistures are at or approaching historic thresholds 
  • No significant relief in fire weather forecast during the next 7 days

The board’s decision has the support of local fire districts and the Dillon Ranger District of the White River National Forest, which will also enter Stage 1 Fire Restrictions beginning at 12:01 am Friday, June 18. It is estimated that the county and the forest services will remain in Stage 1 for at least the next week and we are closely monitoring conditions as we approach the requirements for Stage 2 restrictions.

“We are steadily moving towards Stage 2 thresholds,” said Summit County Sherriff Jaime FitzSimons. “The fuel moisture levels and weather patterns we are seeing are unprecedented. We are monitoring them and will remain in daily communication with our local, state, and federal partners to decide when it would be appropriate to move to Stage 2.”

Prohibited Activities: The following activities and uses are prohibited under Stage 1 Fire Restrictions

  • Open Fires: Open Fires, except those that have been permitted by the applicable local fire district in the permitted activities. For purposes of these Stage 1 Fire Restrictions, Open Fires shall be defined as any outdoor fire, including but not limited to campfire, warming fires, bonfires, or the prescribed burning of fence rows, fields, wildlands, trash and debris.
  • Smoking: Smoking, except in an enclosed vehicle or building, designated outdoor areas where smoking is permitted, or while stopped in an area that is at least three feet in diameter and is barren or cleared of all flammable material.
  • Fireworks: The use and/or sale of recreational fireworks.
  • Explosives: The use of tracer ammunition, including recreational use of any projectile containing explosive material, incendiary material, or other chemical substance. The use of recreational explosives, including explosive targets.
  • Disposal: Disposal of any burning object outdoors, including without limitation, any cigarette, cigar or match.
  • Chainsaws: Operation of a chainsaw is prohibited without a USDA or Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) approved spark arrester properly installed and in effective working order, a chemical pressurized fire extinguisher (with a minimum 8 oz. capacity and rating of 2A) kept with the operator, and one round point shovel with an overall length of at least 35 inches readily available for use. 
  • Commercial and Industrial Operations: Blasting, grinding, welding, or operating acetylene or other torch with open flame without being in a cleared area of at least 10 feet in diameter and keeping a chemical pressurized fire extinguisher (with a minimum 8 oz. capacity and rating of 2A) with the operator.  

Permitted Activities: The following activities and uses are allowed under Stage 1 Fire Restrictions

  1. Solid-Fuel Burning Fires (Wood or Charcoal) - Igniting, building, and maintaining fires on private property must be permitted by the applicable local fire protection district and meet the following requirements:   
    1. The fire is contained to:
      1. A permanent outdoor fireplace or fire ring with a screen to reduce the spread of embers; or
      2. A portable outdoor fireplace that is assembled, located, and operated in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions with a screen to reduce the spread of embers. For purposes of these restrictions, a portable outdoor fireplace means a portable, outdoor, solid-fuel-burning (wood or charcoal) fireplace that is constructed of steel, concrete, clay or other noncombustible material; or 
      3. A commercially designed chiminea with a screen to reduce the spread of embers;
    2. The area directly underneath the fire is barren;
    3. The fire is at least fifteen (15) feet from any flammable material and/or structure;
    4. The size of the fire is no larger than (3) feet wide and (2) feet tall; AND
    5. Safety measures are in place as required by subsection f below.
    6. The occurrence of any permissible fire, as detailed above in subsection 1, must also include the following safety measures: 
      1. The fire must be constantly attended by a responsible adult; 
      2. The fire must be extinguished and cool to the touch prior to being left unattended; and
      3. The supervising adult must have available for immediate utilization a minimum of: 
        1. (1) one portable fire extinguisher with a minimum 2A10BC rating; OR 
        2. A minimum 5 gallon water container; OR 
        3. A charged garden hose. 
  2. Liquid or Gas-Fueled Devices: heating devices, stoves, grills, lanterns, fire pits, fireplaces or fire tables that include shut-off valves are permitted allowed when used in an area at least three or more feet from flammable materials such as grasses or pine needles.
  3. Fires Contained Inside Permanent Structures: Any fire contained within a fireplace, stove, wood burning stove, or pellet stove designed for and located within a fully enclosed permanent structure. 
  4. Developed Recreational Site: Any fire within a campground or picnic area (developed recreation site) contained to a permanent metal or concrete fire pit or grate that the USDA Forest Services has installed and maintained.   
  5. Grills, Stoves and Smokers: Use of gas, charcoal and/or wood pellet grills, smokers and barbecues, coal and wood burning stoves and sheepherder’s stoves.
  6. Agricultural and Large Pile Burns: with the appropriate permits from the local fire protection district and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. 
  7.  Slash Burns: with the appropriate permit from the local fire protection district.
  8. Administrative Fires: Fires administered by any Federal, State, or local officer or member of an organized rescue or firefighting force in the performance of an official duty. 
  9. Hot Air Balloons: Inflation or propulsion of a hot air balloon.  
  10. Off-Highway Vehicles: Use of an “off-highway vehicle” in compliance with C.R.S. 33-14.5-101 et. seq. and Summit County Ordinance No. 09. 

“Given the danger, we need individuals to make smart decisions. Even though we are moving into Stage 1 on Friday, we need to consider ourselves in very severe wildfire risk,” said Commissioner Tamara Pogue. “Each individual needs to take personal responsibility. Please consider the risk and reconsider any activity that has the potential to ignite a fire.”

According to the National Weather Service, Summit County is projected to have below-normal precipitation and higher-than-normal temperatures over the next several weeks. The U.S. Drought Monitor reports that southern Summit County is "abnormally dry" and northern Summit County is experiencing "severe drought" conditions.

For more information about current fire restrictions and wildfire prevention, visit www.SummitCountyCO.gov/wildfire. Register for emergency notifications at www.SCAlert.org.

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