Pitkin County Sheriff Reduces Fire Restrictions to Stage 1

 Effective 12:00 am August 1, 2012

The Pitkin County Sheriff, with the support from the Fire Chiefs of Aspen, Snowmass, Basalt, and Carbondale, has reduced current fire restrictions to Stage 1 in response to recent weather patterns experienced in Pitkin County.

“Although fuel moisture levels are not ideal, they have improved enough to scale back restrictions,” said Pitkin County Sheriff Joe DiSalvo. After continued discussion with local fire chiefs, Stage 1 fire restrictions have been reinstated allowing the use of charcoal grills as well as fires enclosed within portable, commercial fireplaces in developed areas. Developed areas include campgrounds and recreation areas, as well as areas that have been improved from their natural state through the use of gravel, concrete, or irrigation techniques. “Most backyards fall under the category of ‘developed’,” explained Basalt Fire Chief Scott Thompson, “We just don’t want people going out into the middle of the woods or dry grassy fields and starting fires.”

“Our main concern is preventing embers or sparks from getting stirred up by the wind, traveling through the air, and remotely starting fires,” said Thompson. “Wood fires are notorious for reigniting long after users think they are extinguished,” he said, which is why under Stage 1 restrictions they must be contained within an enclosed fire pit with proper safety mechanisms. Decorative, in-ground natural gas fires are also allowed under Stage 1 restrictions if they have a listed pilot safety and flame safeguard devices in working order.

“The goal of our restrictions are to keep the citizens of Pitkin County safe and prevent catastrophic fires similar to those we’ve witnessed throughout Colorado this year,” said DiSalvo, “We want the public to remember that fire season usually doesn’t start until the fall, so we’re not in the clear yet.” Additional wildfire information and emergency updates can be found online at www.pitkinemergency.org. Citizens are encouraged to visit this site to learn how to sign up for Pitkin Alert, an emergency notification system that sends text, email, pager, and voice alerts. You can also tune into local radio stations for current information in the event of an emergency. Please direct all media questions to Pitkin County Sheriff Joe DiSalvo at (970) 920-5300.

The following open fire ban and restrictions shall apply on all private and state lands in Pitkin County. Federal lands are excluded.

Stage I activities allowed:

  1. Open fires in charcoal or gas fire grills commonly used for home preparation of meals.
  2. Open fires in exterior, in-ground decorative natural-gas appliances with listed pilot safety and flame safeguard devices in working order.
  3. Recreational fires in developed areas fully contained in a commercially purchased portable outdoor fireplace (i.e. a metal, in-ground or above ground containment structure) with approved spark arrester, water supply nearby, and located an appropriate distance from combustible material (15 feet).
  4. A fire within a furnace, stove, boiler, or other place within a house or structure.
  5. Camp stoves on private lands, commercially purchased/approved camping stoves and/or backpacking stoves.
  6. Smoking within an enclosed vehicle or building or in a developed recreation site or while stopped in an area at least 3 feet in diameter that is barren or cleared of all flammable vegetation.

Stage I activities not allowed:

  1. Building, maintaining, attending, or using a fire, campfire, or “open fire” of any type on private lands outside of a developed campground or recreational area with fire grates (unless authorized with written approval by Pitkin County and appropriate fire protection district).
  2. Wood burning appliances such as a chimineas without approved spark arresters or front grates.
  3. Improperly discarded smoking materials, including but not limited to cigarette butts and matches.
  4. Using explosive material i.e. firecrackers, fireworks, tracer rounds, blasting caps or any incendiary device, which may result in the ignition of flammable material.
  5. Operating or using a chainsaw or any internal combustion engine without a spark arresting device properly installed, maintained and in effective working condition.
  6. Possessing, discharging, or using any kind of firework or other pyrotechnic device, to include sparklers.
  7. Welding or operating acetylene or other torch with an open flame except within an area that is barren or cleared of all flammable material within 10 feet of equipment.

Knowingly or recklessly burning during this ban is illegal and legal actions may be taken against individuals in violation under CRS 30-15-410 and Pitkin County Resolution 96-38.

The temporary restrictions and burn ban are in effect until further notice.

If you have any questions please contact your local fire district or Sheriff’s Office at:

Aspen Fire Protection District                                   925-5532
Basalt & Rural Fire Protection District                      704-0675
Carbondale & Rural Fire Protection District              963-2491
Snowmass/Wildcat Fire Protection District               923-2212
Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office                                   920-5300

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