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Fire ban in effect in county, forest

Much of Archuleta County and the San Juan National Forest are now under Stage 2 fire restrictions — commonly known as a fire ban — in light of continually drying conditions and a lack of precipitation.

The restrictions went into effect at 8 a.m. Wednesday, June 20, and will remain in effect until officially rescinded.

The higher elevations of the San Juan National Forest are also now under Stage 1 restrictions.

Following is information about the bans in the county, as well as on public lands.

Fire restrictions for specific areas should be checked when visiting those areas.

It should also be noted that Gov. John Hickenlooper issued a ban on open burning statewide last week, but local restrictions include more information and prohibit additional activities.

Archuleta County

Prohibited:

According to the resolution approved by the BoCC Tuesday, the following are prohibited until further notice, unless exceptions are stated.

• Open burning, burn barrels and agricultural burning within all private land in unincorporated Archuleta County.

• Building, maintaining, attending or using a fire, campfire, coal or wood-burning stove, any type of charcoal-fueled broiler or open fire of any type.

Mechanical stoves and appliances fueled by bottled or liquid gas, such as gas grills, that allow the operator to control and extinguish the flame with a valve, are permitted.

• Smoking is prohibited in any open area where dry grasses or other combustible material may be present.

• Explosive materials such as fireworks of all types, sparklers, blasting caps or incendiary devices that may ignite flammable materials.

Public fireworks displays for the Fourth of July may be permitted with written authorization from the fire chief or Archuleta County Sheriff’s Office, depending on who has jurisdiction. The town’s public Fourth of July fireworks display will be permitted under the ban.

Blasting in development areas or construction areas with a continuous fire watch can, too, be permitted by the jurisdiction with authority, as stated above.

• Welding or operating with an acetylene or similar torch with open flame.

Welding and cutting will be permitted with the following requirements: a 20-foot radius safe zone free of vegetation, one 2.5 gallon pressurized fire extinguisher or a 5-pound ABC extinguisher or a pressurized water supply, proper hand tools must be on site, and a fire watch individual must be standing by continuously.

Oil and gas welding and cutting operations, which are required to comply with the requirements of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission Rules for Fire Prevention and Production, Rule 606A(o), may be conducted with a 40-foot diameter safe zone.

• Flaring for production wells and production facilities may be allowed with approval from the designated fire chief for that district or the ACSO if no fire district exists.

Any flaring from established gas processing plants or facilities is exempted.

Any gas escaping from a well during drilling operations shall be, so far as practical, conducted a safe distance from the well site and flammable vegetation, and burned.

Operators are required to notify Archuleta County Combined Dispatch at 731-2160 in advance of any anticipated flaring, “and in all other cases as soon as possible, but no more than two hours after the flaring has occurred.”

• Operating or using any internal combustion engine without a spark-arresting device, maintained and in effective working order meeting either Department of Agriculture, Forest Service Standard 5100-1a; or Appropriate Society of Automotive Engineer recommended practice J335(b) and J350(a).

Operating a chainsaw without a chemical pressurized fire extinguisher of not less than 8 ounces capacity by weight, and one size zero or larger round, pointed shovel with an overall length of at least 36 inches. The extinguisher should be with the chainsaw operator, while the shovel can be kept with fueling supplies, but readily available.

Exempted:

In addition to those exemptions stated above, any local, state or federal officer, or member of an organized emergency operation (such as fire, search and rescue, law enforcement, etc.) are exempt in the performance of professional duty.

The sheriff can also grant written permission allowing open fires upon request, provided that it is proven to his satisfaction that such exception to the fire restrictions does not constitute a high danger of forest, grass or other wildland fire.

Public lands

Fire restrictions have been upgraded for public lands managed by the San Juan National Forest and Bureau of Land Management Tres Rios Field Office in southwestern Colorado.

Maps and information on the restrictions and affected areas is available at National Forest and BLM offices in southwestern Colorado. Maps will also be posted online at www.fs.usda.gov/sanjuan and www.blm.gov/co/st/en/fo/sjplc.html.

For more information, contact the San Juan Public Lands Center at 247-4874.

Higher elevation (Zone 2):

Higher elevations, which are denoted as Zone 2 on public lands fire maps, are now under Stage 1 restrictions.

• Building, maintaining, attending or using a campfire or other type of fire is limited to permanent fire rings or grates within developed campgrounds.

Exempted are petroleum-fueled stoves, lanterns or heating devices.

• Smoking is limited to an enclosed vehicle or building, or within a 3-foot-wide area cleared of vegetation.

• Chainsaws and other internal-combustion engines must have approved, working spark arresters.

• Welding or use of acetylene and other torches with an open flame is prohibited.

• Use of explosives is prohibited, including fireworks, blasting caps or any incendiary device that may result in the ignition of flammable material.

Lower elevation (Zone 1):

Fire restrictions for lower elevations, denoted as Zone 1 on maps, have been upgraded to Stage 2. All of the restrictions in place for Stage 1 restrictions (see above) are in place, with the addition of the following:

• Building, maintaining, attending or using any fire, campfire or wood stove is completely prohibited.

• Smoking is only allowed within an enclosed vehicle or building.

• Use of chainsaws and other internal-combustion engines must be accompanied onsite by a chemical pressurized fire extinguisher of not less than eight ounces weight capacity, and a size zero or larger round pointed shovel with an overall length of at least 36 inches.

randi@pagosasun.com

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