Stage 2 Fire Restrictions now in effect

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Fires in nearby counties have provided dramatic red hues through a smoky haze. The recent fire conditions have prompted Grand County and Bureau of Land Management to enter Stage 2 Fire Restrictions.
Fires in nearby counties have provided dramatic red hues through a smoky haze. The recent fire conditions have prompted Grand County and Bureau of Land Management to enter Stage 2 Fire Restrictions.

Grand County Commissioners passed a resolution to enter into Stage II fire restrictions, effective Thursday, August 13, 2020.
The increased level of restriction was recommended by Grand County Sheriff Brett Schroetlin, who presented that the County currently meets five of seven conditions considered by the Northwest Colorado Fire Management Unit
for determining wildland fire risk and public safety guidance.

Fire Management Officer Paul Mintier was also present and indicated that, while Grand County is not experiencing a higher than normal incidence of human-caused fires nor are current fires impacting available resources, 1,000-hour fuel moisture levels are low, the three-day mean energy release component is at 90% or above, drought indicators are present in the county, and adverse fire weather is predicted to continue with dry, windy conditions.

Commissioner Kristen Manguso asked about restrictions in neighboring counties, but the Sheriff noted that “We have to focus on Grand County and not focus on what other counties are doing. Even within Grand County–it’s a perfect example–if you look east of Byers Canyon or west of Byers Canon and things can change dramatically.”

Commissioner Merrit Linke asked about human resource capabilities or limitations due to COVID-19 and concern with large group numbers. Schroetlin indicated that fire agencies are trying to stay in modules, avoid mixing various groups or creating big group camps, and are trying not to move firefighters unnecessarily.

Some concern was expressed by the Sheriff about exploding ammunition and targets that are still in use in some areas of the county, though they are not permitted in the forest or at the shooting range. “We have an issue with those and those have huge fire potential. We need to consider those as we move forward.”

Restrictions defined
Maxine LaBarre-Krostue, Assistant County Attorney, confirmed for Commissioners that Stage II builds upon Stage I restrictions that already prohibit open fires on public lands outside of designated fire pits; outdoor smoking, except in designated areas; operation of chain saws without proper spark-arresting devices; and outdoor welding or other torch use, except in areas with no nearby combustible materials.

Under Stage II, no open fires are allowed on public or private properties and only gas-fueled fire pits or grills are permitted. Smoking is only allowed in an enclosed vehicle or building.

Timing of the ban was planned to give other area agencies, including the Wildfire Council, Bureau of Land Management, and US Forest Service, the opportunity to coordinate similar efforts within their respective jurisdictions.