Eagle, Pitkin counties ease fire restrictions
Pitkin and Eagle counties are downgrading fire restrictions to Stage 1 from Stage 2 starting Friday, officials said Tuesday.
The more restrictive fire rules were put into place Aug. 16 in Eagle County as well as Pitkin and Garfield counties and public lands around the Roaring Fork Valley. The new restrictions, which include campfires in developed campgrounds and charcoal grills, will take effect just after midnight Friday.
“Fire managers base decisions about fire restrictions on specific moisture measurements in vegetation and other risk factors such as predicted weather and amount of current fire activity,” Eagle County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release.
Aspen Fire Department Chief Rick Balentine said Tuesday that area fire officials made the decision to go back to Stage 1 during a regular weekly phone call. Recent snow and rain has increased the moisture content in area fuels and reduced risk of wildfire, said Balentine and Assistant Chief Parker Lathrop.
“We still encourage people to be careful because it can go the other way pretty quickly,” Balentine said.
The restrictions that will remain in place until further notice are:
Campfires are only allowed within designated fire grates in developed campgrounds — metal, in-ground containment structures. Fire pans and rock campfire rings in dispersed campsites are not acceptable.
No fires of any type, including charcoal, are allowed outside of developed areas.
No welding or operation of an acetylene or other similar torch with open flame, or any other spark-producing device, except from an area that has been cleared of vegetation.
No operation of any internal combustion engine without a spark-arresting device property installed and in working order.
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The Independence Pass Foundation has worked since the mid-1990s to stabilize the steep, eroding slopes along Highway 82 near the summit of the pass. Its latest investment is $100,000 to vegetate the Top Cut.