La Plata County Commissioners Enact Stage II Fire Restrictions
Durango, CO – La Plata County continues to experience above-average temperatures, dry winds, low humidity, and little rain. As a result of these conditions, La Plata County now has extremely dry conditions that can provide explosive fire growth and behavior. The La Plata County Board of County Commissioners today enacted Stage II fire restrictions effective immediately in the unincorporated areas of La Plata County and upon all lands owned by La Plata County excluding those private lands in the Towns of Bayfield and Ignacio, the City of Durango, or any Federal or Tribal lands.
“All standing and ground fuels have continued to dry and are now brown in many areas of the County which increases the potential for the ignition of a wildfire,” explained Butch Knowlton, Emergency Management Director. “It’s so important for everyone to be responsible and adhere to these restrictions, because one spark could lead to disaster.”
Stage II fire restrictions build on the Stage I restrictions and prohibit the following activities:
- Open burning, burn barrels and agricultural burning.
- Building, maintaining, attending, or using a fire, campfire, stove fire, including but not limited to charcoal grills, coal or wood burning stoves, or sheepherder’s stoves, unless the specific device uses pressurized liquid or gas, includes a shut-off valve, and is used in areas that are barren or cleared of all flammable materials at least three feet on all sides of the specific device.
- Smoking, unless within an enclosed vehicle, trailer, or building.
- Welding, pipefitting, metal grinding, or operating an acetylene or other torch with open flame unless within areas that are barren or cleared of all flammable materials at least ten feet on all sides, and in addition to the equipment operator, a second person equipped with a fire extinguisher and shovel readily available is on-site to watch for fires.
- Operating a chainsaw, unless a fire extinguisher is in the operator’s immediate vicinity and a shovel is with fueling supplies and is readily available (further restrictions for all internal combustion engines, including chainsaws, are contained in subsection below).
- Operating or using any internal combustion engine, including but not limited to chainsaws or generators, unless equipped with a spark arresting device properly installed, maintained, and in effective working order meeting either Department of Agriculture, Forest Service Standard 5100-1a or Society of Automotive Engineers recommended practice J335(b) and J350 (a).
- Using an explosive, including but not limited to fireworks, blasting caps, or any other incendiary device.
- Flaring for oil and gas production wells and production facilities.
The restrictions do provide flexibility to Sheriff Duke Schirard and the Chiefs of the local fire districts to ease restrictions within their respective jurisdictions if they deem such actions to be safe, appropriate and prudent in their professional opinions.
The fire restrictions were enacted by the La Plata County Board of County Commissioners upon the recommendation of the Sheriff and the Chiefs of the local fire districts. A violation of the fire restrictions shall constitute a class 2 petty offense punishable by a fine of up to $300 for each violation.
There are four fire districts within La Plata County serving specific areas of the County. For specific information about the fire restrictions, individuals should visit the County’s website at http://co.laplata.co.us/emergency/2013/06/fire_restrictions or contact their local fire department:
· Durango Fire and Rescue Authority (for properties in the Animas valley corridor from the north county line to New Mexico), call 382-6000;
· Upper Pine Fire Protection District (for properties east of Bayfield north to Vallecito), call
· Fort Lewis Mesa Fire Protection District (for properties in west La Plata County surrounding Hesperus to the Colorado/New Mexico state line on Highway 140), call 238-0115; or
· Los Pinos Fire Protection District (for properties in the southeast corner of La Plata County and surrounding Ignacio), please call 563-9501.
The La Plata County fire response agencies will continue to monitor the situation and if the conditions continue to deteriorate, a more restrictive fire ban may be developed. The fire restrictions will remain in effect until such time as the threat of fire danger in La Plata County has reduced significantly, as determined by the Sheriff and the Chiefs of the local fire districts.