Health advisory issued; Montrose fireworks canceled; governor announces relief fund
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has issued a wildfire smoke health advisory for portions of Mesa County due to the Pine Ridge Fire.
Officials say light to locally heavy smoke is expected downwind of the blaze. Smoke will move to the northeast toward Parachute during the day today and Friday but may pool along the Colorado River Valley at night and in the morning, affecting Palisade and portions of Grand Junction.
Fine particulates are expected to be in the unhealthy-for-sensitive-groups range in areas where smoke is thick.
The department says if visibility is less than 5 miles in smoke in a neighborhood, smoke has reached levels that are unhealthy and advises people to remain indoors, particularly those with heart disease, respiratory illnesses, the very young and the elderly.
A day after just about every local, state and federal agency imposed or upgraded fire restriction bans, Montrose County Sheriff Rick Dunlap revoked his authorization to a local group for its annual July Fourth fireworks show.
The sheriff said he did that because of increased fire danger due to continued dry conditions and high temperatures.
“After much consideration and receiving the moisture content report from the U.S. Forest Service, in the interests of public safety, I find it necessary to revoke my authorization for the Montrose Rotary Club’s fireworks display that was to be held on July 4,” Dunlap said.
Dunlap also reminded county residents of Gov. John Hickenlooper’s June 14 order banning open burning throughout the state, and the several other fire restrictions on public lands.
The restrictions include bans on outdoor fire such as campfires, warming fires, charcoal grill fires, fused explosives, fireworks and any other activity that poses a significant risk of starting a fire. The order applies to all municipalities in the state.
The revocation comes one day after the Montrose County Board of Commissioners upgraded the fire restrictions from Stage 1 to Stage 2 for all unincorporated areas of the county.
Gov. John Hickenlooper on Thursday announced the creation of the Colorado Fire Relief Fund 2012 benefiting those affected by Colorado wildfires.
The funds will assist all Colorado communities impacted by wildfires in 2012 and will complement ongoing efforts at http://www.helpcoloradonow.org. Individuals, foundations and corporations have already generated over $600,000 in relief support for this fund.
“Coloradans are at their best when they work together to help each other in difficult times,” Hickenlooper said today. “We’ve established this fund in response to the outpouring of support from the community to help out our neighbors affected by these wildfires.”
Individuals, foundations and corporations committed may contribute major or combined gifts through the Colorado Fire Relief Fund 2012 at The Denver Foundation. These funds will be administered and distributed by a committee of community foundation executives appointed by the governor.
Individuals can text the word FIRE to 80000 to give $10 to the fund.
Smoking outdoors, driving a car off-road, and igniting a campfire are now off-limits in Mesa County.
Mesa County Sheriff Stan Hilkey approved Stage 2 fire restrictions Thursday for the county due to increased drought concerns and hot temperatures, according to a news release from the Sheriff’s Department.
The upgrade follows just about every other local, state and federal agency on public lands throughout the Western Slope.
Stage 2 restrictions include:
■ Smoking outdoors unless inside a vehicle, trailer or building.
■ Operating an internal combustion engine such as a chainsaw, generator or all-terrain vehicle without a spark arresting device installed and working properly. Chainsaws also have to be operated with a chemical pressurized fire extinguisher and a round point shovel nearby.
■ Parking or driving a motor vehicle off established roads, motorized trails or established parking areas unless the parking area has no vegetation within 10 feet of the vehicle.
■ Building, maintaining, or using a fire, campfire, charcoal grill, coal, wood-burning stove, or sheepherder’s stove, including in developed picnic and camping areas. Gas grills, stoves or lanterns with shut-off valves may be used at least three feet away from flammable materials, including grass and pine needles.