Minturn to talk about outdoor burning |

Minturn to talk about outdoor burning

MINTURN – There’s nothing like a fire on the back patio on a crisp evening. But how safe is it?

The Minturn Town Council will take a first look at ways to regulate outdoor fires and fire pits at its Oct. 21 work session. The council will hear a presentation from Carol Gill-Mulson, deputy chief fire marshal for the Eagle River Fire Protection District.

The problem, Gill-Mulson said, is that the town’s regulation and the fire code don’t agree about what’s allowed in town and what isn’t.

Town codes prohibit outdoor burning, with some exceptions. The fire code allows outdoor burning, if certain standards are met. The fire code allows fire rings, like those found in campgrounds, if those rings are a certain distance from structures. The next fire code the district will adopt this year allows items such as chimineas, but only if they’re used according to the manufacturer’s requirements.

That conflict has led Minturn resident Liz Campbell to wonder if the regulations aren’t being enforced selectively.

“It seems like the town’s deciding case by case how to apply the law,” Campbell said. “I think it needs to be regulated, but it needs to apply to everyone.”

That’s one part of the conversation, Gill-Mulson said. But the main one is safety, she added. Old mining towns have always had the houses close together, she said, but that’s even more the case as people have added on to their homes over the years.

“People will say ‘I’ve been doing this for 30 years,'” she said. “But I’ll ask them if they’ve really been safe all this time.”

Minturn Town Manager Jim White said the topic of outdoor fires hasn’t been a big one in town in the few months he’s been on the job, but said it’s an important conversation to have. Wednesday’s work session will be the start of that conversation, he said.

Gill-Mulson said her understanding of the process is she’ll hear what the town council has to say on the issue, then she will draft a proposed ordinance, along with the town attorney.

If it comes to an ordinance, it will probably bring the town’s laws in line with the fire district’s regulations. That’s the case in many towns around the region, she said.

“The important thing is we need one set of rules, and we need to make it known to everyone,” she said.

Business Editor Scott N. Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930 or

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