No burn ban, but be careful |

No burn ban, but be careful

Aspen Times Staff Report
Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN ” Pitkin County Sheriff Bob Braudis hasn’t imposed a countywide burn ban yet, but he is asking locals to act like there is one.

Braudis said that often by this time of year, he’s already called for a ban on open fires, but because the current fire threat is “moderate,” he’s instead mounting a public education campaign and warning locals to be cautious.

“Just because there is no ban doesn’t mean you can flick your cigarette butt in the weeds,” Braudis said.

Pitkin County’s four fire districts ” Aspen, Snowmass/Wildcat, Basalt and Carbondale ” cover a wide variety of terrain, from lush alpine meadows and 14,000-foot mountain peaks to drier valleys at 5,000 feet, Braudis said.

And with ongoing development, more and more rural areas are dotted with large homes that are in danger from any major wildfire, Braudis said.

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While potential fire conditions in low-lying areas may be higher, mountain valleys are still green and moist, so Braudis said he’ll hold off on the ban for now.

Nearby Garfield County has a ban in place, but Eagle County does not.

The Bureau of Land Management, which manages a lot of lowland areas, has already implemented a burn ban, but the U.S. Forest Service, which manages mostly higher alpine land, has no ban yet, Braudis noted.

The sheriff met recently with area fire chiefs, some of whom argued that a ban is only a minor inconvenience that prevents fires while others said a ban prevents campers from enjoying a night under the stars next to a campfire.

For now, Braudis is simply asking locals to be aware of areas that have heavy fuels and are a fire danger.

The sheriff is reminding folks never to leave fires and grills unattended, not to throw cigarette butts out of car windows, to completely extinguish any open fires and clear debris from campground fire rings, and to be careful not to park a car in dry grass.

Fire officials throughout the county continue to monitor conditions, Braudis said.

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