Eagle County under Stage 1 fire restrictions until further notice | VailDaily.com

Eagle County under Stage 1 fire restrictions until further notice

Federal officials waiting until early next week to make a decision about restrictions

A view of Thursday's wildfire from north side of Interstate 70.
Thomas Nern | Special to the Daily
More information Information about fire restrictions across the county is available at http://www.ecemergency.org.

EAGLE COUNTY — After days of dry, windy weather, and a Thursday wildfire that burned four acres near Old Edwards Estates, Eagle County Sheriff James van Beek has imposed Stage 1 fire restrictions across the county.

Those restrictions are automatically imposed whenever the National Weather Service issues a red flag fire weather warning. But those warnings sometimes last only a matter of hours.

Given the continued dry, windy conditions, and Thursday’s fire, Eagle County Sheriff’s Office Community Affairs Officer Amber Barrett said van Beek decided it was time to impose restrictions until further notice.

As of Friday afternoon, those restrictions only applied to unincorporated Eagle County. Barrett said officials from the Sheriff’s Office have been in contact with town governments and fire districts, as well as federal land managers. Those agencies were largely “on board” with van Beek’s decision, Barrett said.

Eagle-Holy Cross District Ranger Aaron Mayville said his agency won’t impose fire restrictions “just yet.” There will be a conference call between regional land managers, law enforcement and fire officials

Stage 1 fire restrictions include:

  • Campfires are allowed only in designated fire grates in developed campgrounds. Fire pans and rock campfire rings aren’t acceptable.
  • No fires of any type, including charcoal, outside of developed areas.
  • No smoking, except within an enclosed vehicle or building, in a developed recreation site or in an area free of vegetation.
  • No use of explosive materials, including explosive targets or incendiary — tracer — ammunition.
  • No operation of any internal combustion engine without a properly installed spark arresting device.

On Wednesday, Chris Cuomo, a National Weather Service meteorologist at the service’s Grand Junction office, said more red flag warnings could be in the offing if dry, windy conditions persist.

As of Friday afternoon, the forecast for Avon showed nothing but clear weather through at least Oct. 10.

Tracy LeClair, Eagle River Fire Protection District’s communications officer, said that department’s fire inspector hadn’t been able to determine a cause for that blaze. If the fire had been sparked by a tossed cigarette, there would be an unburned portion, LeClair said. The fire’s cause is still under investigation, she said.

Passing vehicles can sometimes spark wildfires.

Barrett said the Colorado State Patrol Thursday stopped a truck-pulled camper heading westbound into Glenwood Canyon. A tire had gone flat on the camper, and driving on the rim of the wheel created a shower of sparks, Barrett said.

Cars parked on dry grass can spark a fire due to hot exhaust systems, Cuomo said Wednesday.

With a number of people still coming to the high country, law enforcement and fire officials are urging hunters, campers and others to use extreme caution with fire. That means, among other things, that campfires should never be left unattended, and put out until they’re cold to the touch, Mayville said.

“It’s getting cold at night, but when the sun comes up it’s still hot and dry,” Mayville said.

Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at smiller@vaildaily.com or 970-748-2930.

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