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Precipitation and lower temperatures reduce fire danger, prompting move from Stage 2 to Stage 1
Thomas Davidson, County Commissioner: 970-333-9817Erin Opsahl, Summit County Sheriff's Office: 970-453-8901SUMMIT COUNTY – The Board of County Commissioners reduced the level of fire restrictions in Summit County from Stage 2 to Stage 1, effective Aug. 7. The changed followed the recommendations made by Summit County Sheriff Jaime FitzSimons during an emergency meeting of the BOCC, in recognition of lower fire danger resulting from increased precipitation and lower temperatures in recent weeks.The decision was supported by local fire districts and the White River National Forest's Dillon Ranger District, which is also planning to move to Stage 1 fire restrictions this week. Under Stage 1 restrictions, open fires are prohibited, except in permanent fire pits or fire grates in developed campgrounds. Explosives and fireworks are also prohibited under Stage 1 restrictions.The board also concurred with Sheriff FitzSimons's recommendation to direct County staff to lift the administrative closure of the Summit County Shooting Range, which had been closed to the public since June 28 because of fire danger.“The current conditions indicate that our fire danger has decreased to the point where we feel comfortable moving out of Stage 2 restrictions, which significantly limit a broad range of activities," Summit County Commissioner Thomas Davidson said. "Nevertheless, the risk of wildfire is not behind us, so we need people to use common sense and to be diligent in abiding by the Stage 1 restrictions that are now in place.”Stage 1 fire restrictions prohibit building, maintaining, attending or using an open fire. An open fire is defined as any outdoor fire, including but not limited to campfires, warming fires, bonfires or prescribed burns of any material. Smoking is prohibited, except in an enclosed vehicle or building, a developed recreation site or while stopped in an area at least 3 feet in diameter that is barren or cleared of all flammable material.Fires are allowed in constructed, permanent fire pits or fire grates within developed recreation sites, such as campgrounds and picnic areas. Also allowed are portable stoves and lanterns that use gas, jellied petroleum or pressurized liquid fuel, and fully enclosed sheepherder stoves with one-quarter-inch spark arrester screens.Under Stage 1 restrictions, chainsaw operators must use a properly functioning USDA or SAE approved spark arrester and have a chemical pressurized fire extinguisher and round-point shovel readily available for use. Any outdoor welding or operation of an acetylene or other torch with an open flame is prohibited, except in a cleared area with a diameter of at least 10 feet; a chemical pressurized fire extinguisher must be readily available for use.Stage 1 fire restrictions allow for the use of charcoal grills, gas grills and chimeneas on private property. Charcoal grills and barbecues are not allowed on U.S. Forest Service land, including campgrounds and picnic areas.Professional fireworks displays are allowed, if permitted by the local fire authority."It's important that a responsible adult maintains constant supervision for any permitted uses," County Commissioner Karn Stiegelmeier said. "And when you're done, be sure to extinguish the fire completely and be sure that any coals are cool to the touch before you leave the immediate area."Even though Summit County's fire danger is now lower now than it was earlier in the summer, fire restrictions may remain in place for many weeks, depending on conditions. Summit County works closely with the White River National Forest to ensure consistency in fire restrictions on local and federal lands, to the greatest extent possible."Things can change quickly in the mountains, so we need everyone to remain vigilant about wildfire prevention," Summit Fire & EMS Chief Jeff Berino said. "In early to mid-September, Summit County typically enters a second burn season, when frost cures the grass and the leaves start to fall. So it's possible that we'll need to keep local fire restrictions in effect until we start to get some snow."