Where are fires allowed?
Summit County recently lifted its fire ban. So did the White River National Forest. But don’t expect Pitkin County to follow suit any time soon.According to Aspen Fire Chief Darryl Grob, one reason the ban remains in place within Pitkin County is its varied landscape. The county encompasses high areas like Aspen as well as lower, less-moisture-soaked areas downvalley where the risk of fire is much higher.”The problem is, how do you define fire restrictions accurately and simply enough so that the public has a clear understanding of where bans are still necessary?” said Grob, adding that Pitkin County’s four fire chiefs and Sheriff Bob Braudis meet regularly to discuss the issue.Since the group was unable to find a good answer to that question, it was decided the bans needed to stay in place, even at higher elevations where the fire danger is now classified as moderate, rather than extreme.At lower elevations in Pitkin County, Grob explained, not nearly enough moisture has fallen over the last few days.”We still have these areas where, in a matter of two to three days of hot, dry winds, the area could be back to explosive potential,” Grob said. “We don’t want to be juggling this by taking the ban off, putting the ban back on, taking it off and putting it back on.”However, within the White River National Forest in Garfield, Pitkin and Eagle counties, there are no fire restrictions. Officials lifted the bans there Thursday, citing the recent precipitation and the lowered the risk of wildfires.”This means that once you’re on public land, the ban is lifted. But on private or county lands, fire restrictions still apply,” said Sue Froeschle, public affairs officer for the White River National Forest. “Once you’re on one of our trails or cross into our boundaries, you can have a fire and do what you normally do. Fireworks, however, are prohibited as always.”Professionally run pyrotechnics displays will be allowed in Aspen, Snowmass Village and Glenwood Springs, however.In Pitkin County, the fire ban means all fires are prohibited on private property except in gas grills, permanent charcoal grills and wood fires in permanent (not makeshift) fire pits. All fires are prohibited on public lands except in metal-grate fire pits in developed campgrounds. Smoking is not allowed, except within an enclosed vehicle or building.Grob said the fire department is actively enforcing the fire ban; on Wednesday an illegal debris fire near Conundrum in the Castle Creek Valley was extinguished.”The fact of the matter is that you can’t procrastinate [on enforcing or abiding by the fire ban],” Grob said. “If there’s a good reason to have the ban, you need to abide by it.”Naomi Havlen’s e-mail address is email@example.com
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