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County, USFS lift fire restrictions

All fire restrictions on private lands within Archuleta County and lands under jurisdiction of the Pagosa Ranger District have been lifted.

As of Wednesday morning, lands under the jurisdiction of the Southern Ute Indian Tribe were still under Stage 1 restrictions, though those restrictions could be lifted by the end of the week.

“It’s been raining, it’s green,” said Drew Peterson, director of emergency management for Archuleta County on Tuesday. “We’re not seeing fires do a whole lot.”

The county’s restrictions for all private lands were lifted mid-afternoon Tuesday by the Archuleta County Sheriff’s Office.

The San Juan National Forest followed suit Wednesday, lifting remaining fire restrictions for Zone 1 in Archuleta, Montezuma and La Plata counties. Restrictions for higher elevations, Zone 2, were previously lifted.

“We thank everyone for their cooperation with our fire restrictions this season,” said Mark Stiles, San Juan National Forest supervisor.

But, although the majority of fire restrictions in the area are gone, fire danger is not a thing of the past.

“People still need to be careful,” Peterson said, noting that lightning strikes are still igniting fuels.

Those starts, though, are not progressing into larger fires, Peterson indicated, and it is not as critical for fire personnel to immediately find fires.

The Forest Service, too, continues to urge caution with campfires, including the following tips in its Wednesday press release:

• Always have a shovel and container of water on hand to contain the fire, if needed.

• Clear flammable debris away from the site.

• Be especially cautious on windy days.

• Take the time to make sure your fire is dead out. Pour water on it and stir ashes until coals are cool to the touch and there is no smoke.

Archuleta County initially entered into Stage 1 restrictions on June 9, escalating to a Stage 2 ban later that month for a period, until monsoonal moisture hit Pagosa Country.

The lifting of the county’s fire restrictions is set to be ratified by the board of county commissioners on Aug. 7.

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