Dry conditions prompt Eagle County to implement Stage 1 fire restrictions

A Google Earth image of the Granite Lake Fire posted on InciWeb, the national incident information system. The fire is south of Granite Lakes, on the west-facing slope of the next valley to the west.
Courtesy photo/InciWeb

Eagle County will implement Stage I fire restrictions at 6 a.m. Saturday “due to the less favorable conditions and moisture,” the Sheriff’s Office announced Friday.

Pitkin County hasn’t implemented restrictions at this time. The Sheriff’s Office regularly consults with fire chiefs and other emergency management officials. They are meeting Monday.

“Currently there are no fire restrictions in place but I remind everyone that 90 percent of wildfires are human caused,” said a statement from Pitkin County Emergency Manager Valerie MacDonald. “Don’t let your guard down because the nights are getting cooler. Our afternoon burn periods are still hot and dry.”

Fire conditions are similar to those in mid-summer, according to MacDonald.

There are fire restrictions in place in Summit County, including the White River National Forest. However, there are no restrictions in place in the national forest surrounding the Roaring Fork Valley.

Curtis Keetch, acting district ranger in the Aspen-Sopris Ranger District, urged forest visitors to be vigilant to avoid starting fires.

“We had a human-start just yesterday in the Crater Lake area,” Keetch said. “It got up to a quarter-acre.”

A helicopter was used to douse the fire as a precaution to it spreading in dry terrain. The fire wasn’t in the designated camping areas, but someone apparently started a fire at another location near the lake.

The Granite Lake fire continues to burn on the national forest in the Frying Pan Valley. The fire has burned about 700 acres, but it isn’t considered a threat of spreading over a great distance. It is located in steep, rocky terrain at high elevation. It hasn’t threatened structures but it is burning toward a water diversion structure, which is being defended by firefighters.

In Eagle County, the fire restrictions will be in place in the unincorporated county until further notice. Provisions of the restrictions include:

• Campfires are only allowed within designated, metal fire grates in development campgrounds. Fire and campfire rings are not acceptable.

• No fires of any type, including charcoal, are allowed outside of developed areas.

• No smoking except within an enclosed vehicle or building, a developed recreation site or in a barren area free of vegetation.

• No use of explosive materials, including explosive targets.

• No welding or operation of an acetylene or other similar torches with an open flame, or any other spark-producing device, except within an area that has been cleared of vegetation.

• No operation of any internal combustion engine without a spark-arresting device properly installed and in working order.

“Going into the weekend following Red Flag Warnings this week, and with hunting season upon us, the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office would like to encourage everyone to have fun while recreating outdoors, keep safety in mind and to encourage residents and visitors to take personal responsibility and prepare before a wildland fire occurs,” the county said in a statement.