Heat, wind leads to Stage 2 fire restrictions in Aspen, Pitkin County
STAGE II RESTRICTIONS
The following is a list of activities and/or actions restricted under the new Stage II fire restrictions, which start at 12:01 a.m. Friday:
— Building, maintaining, attending or using a fire, campfire, or stove fire. This includes charcoal grills and barbecues, coal and wood-burning stoves and sheepherder’s stoves and includes use in developed camping and picnic grounds. (Gas grills/stoves/lanterns using pressurized liquid or gas that include shut-off valves are permitted when used in an area at least three feet or more from flammable material such as grasses or pine needles.)
— All smoking. EXCEPT within an enclosed vehicle, trailer or building.
— Use of any fireworks including sparklers, rockets, exploding targets, and tracers or incendiaries.
— Using an explosive. This includes but is not limited to fuses or blasting caps.
— Welding or operating an acetylene or other torch with open flame with a current permit, contract or letter of authorization.
— Operating or using any internal combustion engine (e.g. chainsaw, generator, ATV) without an approved spark arresting device properly installed and in effective working order.
Stage 2 fire restrictions will go into effect in Pitkin County and beyond first thing Friday morning, authorities said Tuesday.
The restrictions — which start at 12:01 a.m. Friday also will include Eagle County, the White River National Forest, Bureau of Land Management acreage and the Basalt State Wildlife Area shooting range — forbid all campfires, charcoal grills and fireworks, according to press releases and local authorities.
“The decision to implement Stage 2 restrictions is based on data and science and not on a whim,” said Alex Burchetta, director of operations at the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office.
Hot, dry, windy weather and no rain predicted in the near future has led to low moisture levels in fuels and the potential for high combustibility if a fire breaks out, said Burchetta and Valerie MacDonald, the county’s emergency manager.
Winds are of particular concern, with red-flag warnings and a fire weather warning issued Tuesday and Wednesday by the National Weather Service for the Pitkin County and surrounding area.
“My deputies will enforce this fire restriction and will issue citations to those who violate it,” Pitkin County Sheriff Joe DiSalvo said in a statement. “We are in an extreme fire season, and having seen other large fires in our region recently, we know we must do everything we can to deter and prevent fires in our community.”
Residents and visitors who violate the restrictions can be fined $500 for the first offense, $750 for the second and $1,000 for the third, the release states.
Stage 2 restrictions also forbid cigarette smoking outdoors in forest areas and in areas of the county outside the Aspen city limits, Burchetta said. Smoking must take place within enclosed buildings or inside vehicles or trailers, he said. Smoking material also must be extinguished and disposed of inside those enclosed areas.
Aspen Fire officials, in consultation with Aspen Police officials, will meet in the coming days to decide how to handle outdoor cigarette smoking within Aspen city limits, said Parker Lathrop, deputy fire chief at the Aspen Fire Department.
MacDonald encouraged residents to have an evacuation plan in case of a fast-moving wildfire in Aspen or unincorporated Pitkin County. For more information on how to create such a plan, go to ready.gov/plan.
Camp stoves, lanterns or grills that use propane or other gases and have a shutoff switch are allowed under the restrictions.
Officials with Colorado Parks and Wildlife decided to close the Basalt State Wildlife Area shooting range as of Tuesday “out of an abundance of caution,” according to a CPW press release. Stage 2 restrictions do not ban shooting range operations as closing them can push people to shoot on public lands and create other fire hazards, the release states.
However, in consultation with local authorities, CPW decided to close the range immediately, according to the release. The range is where the 2018 Lake Christine Fire started and burned more than 12,800 acres on Basalt mountain.
Visit pitkinemergency.com for more information about fire restrictions.
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