Fire restricted in tinderbox of West Slope
Don’t strike that match in the lower elevations of Mesa and Garfield counties.
Fire restrictions went into effect at midnight in response to hot, dry summer days that have sapped vegetation of moisture, setting the stage for fire to break out in kindling-dry areas.
County officials and the Bureau of Land Management announced the restrictions on Wednesday, the first of several West Slope agencies to declare limits on the kinds of fire allowed on public lands.
Fireworks already have been banned in Grand Junction.
Visitors to high-elevation forests, meanwhile, are asked to take extra care in view of the dry weather, but are not yet subject to the Stage 1 restrictions in force below.
Under Stage 1 restrictions, campfires are permitted only in designated fire grates in developed campgrounds. Fires are not allowed in rock rings or in fire pans.
Other restrictions include:
■ No fires of any type, including charcoal, outside of developed areas;
■ No smoking except within an enclosed vehicle or building, a developed recreation site or in a barren area free of vegetation;
■ No use of explosive materials, including fireworks, which always are prohibited on BLM, National Park and Forest Service lands;
■ No welding or operation of an acetylene or other similar torch with open flame except from an area that has been cleared of vegetation;
■ No operation of any internal-combustion engine without a working spark-arresting device.
The Stage 1 restrictions apply also to BLM-administered lands in Pitkin and Routt counties, as well as on private lands in Garfield County.
BLM-managed land in Rio Blanco, Moffat, Jackson and Grand counties will enter into Stage 1 Fire Restrictions on July 2.
Violation of federal fire restrictions is punishable by a fine of not more than $100,000 or imprisonment for not more than 12 months. Individuals found responsible for starting wildfires also can be required to pay the costs of fighting the fire.