Sugarloaf Fire surpasses 1,200 acres, Weston Pass Fire hits 6,500 | AspenTimes.com

Sugarloaf Fire surpasses 1,200 acres, Weston Pass Fire hits 6,500

Sawyer D'Argonne
Summit Daily

The Sugarloaf Fire that ignited in Grand County late last week has now grown to over 1,200 acres, according to Inciweb, an interagency incident information management system. The blaze is currently at zero percent containment as fire officials continue to let the wind push it northeast and away from Summit County.

“They feel they have a good handle on it,” said Summit Fire & EMS Fire Chief Jeff Berino of the efforts of fire crews in Grand. “They’re more or less steering it to where they can get some benefit from it, to the beetle kill.”

Fifty-two individuals are actively fighting the blaze located about 13 miles southwest of Fraser, including a Type 3 Incident Management Team headed by Incident Commander Mark Giacoletto. The fire currently doesn’t threaten any structures or residents.

Meanwhile, the Weston Pass Fire just nine-miles south of Fairplay continues to grow as well, and has now reached 6,500 acres with zero percent containment. More than 300 firefighters are actively fighting the fire and evacuation orders remain in place for Black Mountain south of County Road 22 and Campground of the Rockies. Black Mountain north of County Road 22 and Thousand Peaks remain on voluntary evacuations orders.

“We’re not directly affected by it, but we’re concerned for a number of reasons,” said Steve Lipsher, public information officer for Summit Fire & EMS. “Any time there’s a fire there’s concern about our neighbors. But in the back of your mind you know that with so many fires burning resources are thin. That means if we get a fire we might have to compete with another fire for aircraft for instance.”

And as temperatures continue to rise, so does the danger of another wildfire. Berino said Summit Fire has received numerous reports of people using firecrackers and fireworks in their yards, and urged everyone to consider the potential consequences of a rogue spark.

“We just want to keep pushing the message that we need a safe Fourth of July, and everybody needs to do their part,” said Berino. “There’s no relief in sight, and we’re likely to move our wildfire danger meter from very high to extreme by the end of the week. So everybody needs to stay vigilant.”

Berino added that the county’s Stage 2 fire restrictions would stay in place for at least another week.

Penalties for violating the fire restrictions will be met with monetary fines. Violators of the county restrictions will be fined $150 for their first infraction, $500 for their second and $1,000 for each afterward. Violators of the federal restrictions handed down by the White River National Forest can be punished by a fine of no more than $5,000 for an individual or $10,000 for an organization, imprisoned for no more than six months, or both.

“We’ve been getting a lot of phone calls about that,” said Berino. “Bottom line is if it has an on and off switch it’s probably okay to use. If it doesn’t, it’s probably not. We have zero tolerance for violators.”

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WHITE RIVER NATIONAL FOREST RESTRICTIONS:

1. 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. It also includes use in developed camping and picnic grounds.

2. Smoking except within an enclosed vehicle, trailer or building.

3. Possessing, discharging or using any kind of firework or other pyrotechnic device.

4. Using an explosive including, but not limited to fuses or blasting caps, fireworks, rockets, exploding targets, and tracers or incendiary rounds.

5. Operating or using any internal combustion engine (e.g. chainsaw, generator, ATV) without a spark arresting device properly installed, maintained and in effective working order meeting either:

a. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service Standard 5100-1a; or

b. Appropriate Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE recommended practice J335(b) and J350(a).

6. Operating a chainsaw without an approved spark arresting device as described in Prohibition number 5, a chemical pressurized fire extinguisher (8 oz. capacity by weight or larger and kept with the operator) and a round point shovel with an overall length of at least 35 inches readily available for use.

7. Welding or operating acetylene or other torch with open flame.

8. Possess or use a motor vehicle off National Forest System Roads except when parking in an area devoid of vegetation within 10 feet of the roadway, and when parking overnight in a developed campground.

9. Violating any state law concerning burning, fires, or which is for the purpose of preventing or restricting the spread of fire.

EXEMPTIONS:

1. Persons with a written fire entry and activity permit that specifically authorizes the otherwise prohibited act.

2. Persons using a fire fueled solely by liquid petroleum or LPG fuels.

3. Persons conducting activities in those designated areas where the activity is specifically authorized by written posted notice.

4. Any federal, state, or local officer, or member of an organized rescue or firefighting force in the performance of an official duty.

5. Resident owners and leasers of land within the restricted area except from restriction number 1, provided such fires are within a residence.

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