On May 1, the La Plata County Board of County Commissioners enacted restrictions effective immediately on open burning in the unincorporated private land areas of La Plata County. The fire restrictions were enacted by the La Plata County Board of County Commissioners upon the recommendation of Sheriff Sean Smith and the chiefs of the local fire districts.
The Southern Ute Indian Tribe has enacted similar Stage I fire restrictions for Tribal lands. The San Juan National Forest and Bureau of Land Management’s Tres Rios Field Office has enacted fire restrictions effective May 1.
Southwest Colorado is currently experiencing exceptional drought conditions. The area only received 40 percent of the normal snowpack this winter and has experienced multiple fires daily since April 1. Current predictions indicate that these conditions will extend or worsen throughout the summer.
The fire restrictions prohibit open burning, burn barrels and agricultural burning on private property in the unincorporated private land areas of La Plata County. The use of a campfire, coal or wood-burning stove, any type of charcoal grill or open fire in any undeveloped area is prohibited. The fire restrictions do not include charcoal fires in suitable containers or gas grills for barbeques at private residences or fires within designated campground pits with protective grates; however, residents and visitors alike must not to leave these fires unattended and must carefully and fully extinguish them after use.
The open flame prohibitions also include the following:
• Smoking is limited to vehicles, buildings, developed recreational areas and 3-foot-wide areas cleared of vegetation
• Fireworks are prohibited
• Use of explosive material is prohibited
• Use of any internal combustion engine is prohibited unless it is equipped with an approved and functioning spark-arresting device
• Welding and cutting operations must be conducted with a 20-foot radius safe zone free of vegetation without a 2.5 gallon pressurized fire extinguisher or 5 lb. ABC extinguisher or pressurized water supply and proper hand tools on site with a fire watch individual standing by continuously; and
• Flaring for production wells may be allowed with approval from the designated fire chief.