Stage 1 fire restrictions enacted for Routt National Forest; no open burning |

Stage 1 fire restrictions enacted for Routt National Forest; no open burning

Matt Stensland
Steamboat Pilot & Today
The Mill Creek Fire is burning on 482 acres 13 miles northeast of Hayden in Routt County. The fire was 72 percent contained as of Wednesday morning.
Kyle Miller | Wyoming Hot Shots |

With well-below average rainfall this summer and an ongoing wildfire burning northeast of Hayden, Stage 1 fire restrictions went into effect beginning Wednesday for the entire Routt National Forest.

Routt County commissioners on Monday also will decide whether to enact fire restrictions in the county.

During a conference call Tuesday morning between fire officials in Northwest Colorado, it was determined they were at the threshold for enacting Stage 1 restrictions, which mean open burning and campfires are not allowed except in designated fire pits.

When deciding whether to implement restrictions, fire officials look at seven criteria that measure the susceptibility of a fire, such as how much moisture is in fuels. Routt County Emergency Management Director David DeMorat said three of the seven criteria have been met.

“If we get a couple of rains between now and Monday, that could change this,” DeMorat said.

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In addition to the scientific criteria, commissioners will also have to weigh the social and economic impacts. The dry weather led to the canceling of the Fourth of July fireworks show in Steamboat Springs.

The area saw its first significant rainfall in weeks Monday with various weather observers reporting about 0.8 inches. Monsoonal moisture has led to chances of rain through Thursday.

“We’re seeing some moisture, and we’re not seeing red flag warnings right now,” Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue Chief Mel Stewart said.

Any moisture will help reduce the fire danger and aid firefighting efforts at the Mill Creek Fire near Hayden, which is at about 482 acres. The fire is about 72 percent contained. The state has been managing the fire because of its size. On Thursday, Routt County plans to take over management of the fire using local resources.

Routt County and the Bureau of Land Management will then share the cost of the human-caused fire.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email or follow him on Twitter @sbtstensland.

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