Routt County Fire Restrictions under Consideration

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Routt County Fire Restrictions under Consideration

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, CO – April 10, 2020 — In a conference call this week, all the Fire Protection Districts in Routt County voiced their concerned about the ability to respond effectively to wildland fires and out-of-control agriculture or open burns. Conversations are currently taking place at the state and local level considering increasing levels of fire restrictions. Just this week, the U.S. Forest Service issued bans on recreational fires on all National Forest public lands. At present, established guidelines for fire burns are still in effect and will be enforced by local law enforcement.

“As we enter into our spring and summer seasons, our agriculture communities will understandably want to conduct controlled agriculture burns critical to their ability to produce crops for people and livestock alike. However, we ask the community to consider how stressed local county and municipal government resources are at this time due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We have guidelines already in place that need to be followed. When they are not, we will issue fines and or citations. If the current guidelines are not enough, we will consider enacting more restrictions on controlled burns,” said Sheriff Wiggins, who also serves as the County Fire Warden.

Routt County officials are additionally sensitive to people with respiratory and other health related issues that are exacerbated due to poor air quality and smoky conditions. Recent studies have also shown a link between how increased air pollution negatively affects COVID-19 patients. At this time, while environmental conditions are favorable, there is agreement to allow ONLY agriculture and open burns essential to the following:

  1. Ditch burning in conjunction with irrigation, weed control and production of crops.
  2. Reduction of currently permitted slash piles to assist in wildland fire mitigations plans.
  3. Permitted open burns approved by the local fire chief or their designee.

The U.S. Forest Service has issued Fire Bans including recreational fires on all National Forest lands. In an attempt to reduce confusion, Routt County officials support restricting recreational fires.

Routt County currently requires all open burns to be permitted. To inquire about or obtain a permit call your local fire district or go to https://www.covid19routtcounty.com/environmental-health-department

North Routt Fire Protection District
Mike Swinsick – District Fire Chief
(970) 879-6064

West Routt Fire Protection District
Dal Leck – District Fire Chief
(970) 276-3511

Oak Creek Fire Protection District
Chuck Wisecup – District Fire Chief
(970) 736-8104 – (970) 846-5121

Yampa Fire Protection District
Machia ‘Ky’ Cox – District Fire Chief
(970) 638-4227

Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue
Chuck Cerasoli – Interim Fire Chief
(970) 879-7170

DO NOT do any of the following:

• Intentionally start an open burn without a signed permit. Violators will be issued a citation with fines ranging from $500 up to $1,500 for violations under state statute C.R.S 25-7-123.
• Start an agriculture burn/controlled burn without first calling Routt County Communications and advising that you are conducting and Ag burn. Please provide the time and location prior to starting the burn.
• Start any type of burn unless conditions are safe and personal resources are readily available to attack fires that may become out of control, even if you have a permit. Know your limitations!
• Violate any current fire restriction in place. If you have a question, call your fire district.

Before starting a fire, you should understand:

• Firefighting resources may not be able to respond to your aid and you may be solely responsible for extinguishing the fire and any associated liability.
• Out-of-control fires may result in criminal charges if the fire moves onto the private property others.
• You can be civilly and criminally responsible for out of control fires due to negligence or unsafe burning practices.

Officials will continue to closely monitor our fire and environmental conditions and make fire restriction decisions using an abundance of caution and best practices.

If calls for wildland fires or out-of-control agriculture and open burns become an increasing concern for public safety, stricter fire restrictions will occur! It is everyone’s responsibility to use extreme caution when using fire as tool. When it is necessary to conduct an open or agriculture burn, please use all safety precautions with due regard to current weather conditions.