Pitkin County has joined the growing list of Colorado mountain counties to enact fire restrictions as hot, dry, and windy weather continues to ramp up the wildfire risk.
Pitkin County, home to the mountain towns of Aspen and Basalt, will be placed under Stage II Fire Restrictions at 12:01 a.m., on Friday, August 14.
Violate the mountain county's fire restrictions and you could be fined $500 for the first offense, $750 for the second, and $1,000 after that with possible jail time, county officials warned in a press release issued on Wednesday.
As Red Flag Warnings persist, Pitkin County enters STAGE 2 fire restrictions Fri @ 12:01am. No wood/charcoal/coal fires of ANY kind, no smoking outside a vehicle or building, plus more. Fines for violating start at $500. (MEDIA RELEASE: https://t.co/Ts4XOA47PR) #firewise— Pitkin Co. Sheriff (@PitkinSheriff) August 12, 2020
“A stage two fire restriction essentially prohibits all fires, whether you’re in an established campsite or on the back deck at your house,” warned Pitkin County Sheriff DiSalvo. “My deputies will enforce this fire restriction and will issue citations to those who violate it."
Under the Stage II Restrictions, the following list of activities and/or actions are prohibited within Pitkin County:
- Building, maintaining, attending or using a fire, campfire, or stove fire. This includes charcoal grills and barbecues, coal and wood-burning stoves and sheepherder’s stoves and includes use in developed camping and picnic grounds.*
- All smoking. EXCEPT within an enclosed vehicle, trailer or building.
- Use of any fireworks including sparklers, rockets, exploding targets, and tracers or incendiaries.
- Using an explosive. This includes but is not limited to fuses or blasting caps.
- Welding or operating an acetylene or other torch with open flame with a current permit, contract or letter of authorization.
- Operating or using any internal combustion engine (e.g. chainsaw, generator, ATV) without an approved spark arresting device properly installed and in effective working order meeting either:
- Operating a chainsaw without an approved spark arresting device properly installed and in effective working order, and chemical pressurized fire extinguisher (8 oz. capacity by weight or larger and kept with the operator) and a round point shovel with an overall length of at least 35 inches that is readily available for use.
Multiple wildfires are raging across the state right now, including the Grizzly Creek Fire near Glenwood Springs. The 3,000-plus acre blaze has prompted several evacuations, closed roadways, and even forced the closure of one of the state's most popular outdoor recreation areas.
Surpassing 50,000 acres on Tuesday, the Pine Gulch Fire is now the seventh-largest wildfire the state has ever seen.
Fire restrictions remain in place in several other counties across the state including Fremont, Pueblo, Teller, and Huerfano.
Valerie MacDonald, Pitkin County Emergency Manager is also encouraging the public to come up with an emergency evacuation and sheltering plan, "especially during the pandemic, so you may act quickly during a fast-moving wildfire."
Editor's Note: The fire danger remains high in Colorado. Before starting a fire, always check for local fire restrictions or bans in place.