As of 8 a.m. this morning, stage one fire restrictions are in place for all areas south of U.S. 160 and west of U.S. 84, but the town’s official Fourth of July fireworks celebration will not be affected.
Archuleta County, the Town of Pagosa Springs, U.S. Forest Service (San Juan Public Lands Center) and the Southern Ute Indian Tribe have all entered stage one restrictions for the affected area.
It should be noted that the stage one restrictions vary from entity to entity. Following are the restrictions approved by the county and town.
Under the restriction, open burning, burn barrels, agricultural burning and the use of explosive materials (such as fireworks) are prohibited.
In undeveloped areas (outside of fixed fire rings and cooking areas), campfires, coal- or wood-burning stoves, any type of charcoal grill and any open fires are prohibited.
The Archuleta County Board of County Commissioners approved the restrictions Tuesday afternoon in a resolution.
The Town of Pagosa Springs has administratively approved the restriction, but the town council is expected to consider the restrictions Tuesday evening.
The Bureau of Indian Affairs approved the restriction for the Southern Ute Indian Reservation Tuesday.
“It’s sort of a neat thing,” said Drew Petersen, Archuleta County director of emergency management. “I think we’re all going in at the exact same time.”
In presenting the restrictions to the BoCC, Tim Batchelor, Archuleta County fire crew supervisor, said the fire restrictions are “crucial to minimize the risk of human-caused fires.”
Batchelor said the area will be at critical fire danger levels within a week.
Batchelor said, however, that the fireworks show is important to tourism and the community and proper precautions would be taken against fires.
As per the BoCC resolution, the sheriff and Pagosa Fire Protection District chief have the authority to grant exceptions to the restrictions and the sheriff has the authority to call for an immediate increase in restrictions, or for a ban.
The fire restrictions will remain in effect until each agency rescinds them — when fuel, timber and brush absorb moisture and reach acceptable moisture levels.
Not all is lost for those looking for outdoor grilling, fires and fun.
The restrictions continue to allow the following activities:
• Charcoal fires in suitable containers in developed areas;
• Gas grills for barbecues at private residences;
• Fires within designated campground pits with protective grates;
• Camp stoves, grills, or lights fueled by bottled gas
Keep in mind that no fire should be left unattended and all fires should be fully extinguished after use before they are left unattended.
Smoking is limited to vehicles, buildings, developed recreational areas and three-foot-wide areas cleared of vegetation.
Internal combustion engines, such as on chainsaws and generators, must have spark arresters.
Additionally, cutting and welding operations must have proper fire hand tools and 40 pounds worth of fire extinguishers or a pressurized water supply immediately available, and a person identified as a fire watch must be monitoring activity continuously when ignition of wildlands is possible.
Oil and gas operations must contact 911 if flaring for production wells and compliance with the Rules for Fire Prevention and Protection must be met.
If engaging in a specific, fire-related activity, contact a responsible agency about restrictions.