Rains wash away area fire ban | AspenTimes.com

Rains wash away area fire ban

Naomi Havlen

Three cheers for rain and cold temperatures – a burn ban in Pitkin and Eagle counties is being lifted today.According to the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office, the recent miserable weather has convinced local wildfire experts the fire danger is low enough to permit “prudent burning” in the county. Eagle County Sheriff Joseph Hoy released a similar statement; both counties instituted the ban on July 19 after weeks of hot, dry weather led to high fire danger.At White River National Forest headquarters, spokeswoman Sue Froeschle said the agency also plans to lift its fire ban on forest lands; Thursday afternoon she was waiting for the order to be signed by the forest supervisor.”We monitor not only the moisture, but the weather and the fuel load – it’s a complicated formula that we use that looks at peak and average fire conditions for the last 20 years,” Froeschle said. “We’re below the average line, so we feel comfortable lifting restrictions.”Enacting a fire ban isn’t something forest officials do lightly, as it means posting signs at all trails and campsites. So the agency also doesn’t lift a ban quickly. Froeschle said the Forest Service is comfortable that current conditions will continue for a significant period, though changes can occur quickly if warm, windy conditions return.The Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office is asking campers to use good judgment and not burn in high or erratic winds. Never leave any fire unattended and douse campfires thoroughly, the agency advises. Eagle County warns that fire pits or rings should be used to contain fires, and the fire area should be cold to the touch before it is abandoned.Naomi Havlen’s e-mail address is nhavlen@aspentimes.com