By Ann Bond
Currently, there are no fire restrictions in place on the San Juan National Forest lands; however, Stage 1 fire restrictions are in effect on private lands in Archuleta county.
Fire danger is rated as high in many areas, especially in the lower elevations and areas south of U.S. Highway 160. The possibility of imposing Stage 1 restrictions on National Forest lands exists if weather and fuel conditions warrant. The public is encouraged to be careful with fire over the July 4th weekend and the rest of the summer by following these safety tips:
· Clear the area around campfires of all burnable material.
· Keep a bucket of water, shovel, and other implements on hand in case wind or other conditions cause your campfire to get out of control.
· Never leave a campfire unattended. Make sure campfires are completely out before leaving. Stir water and dirt into the coals until the coals are cool to the touch and there is no smoke.
· Extinguish smoking materials only in cleared areas free of vegetation or debris. Never toss cigarette butts out the car window.
· Don’t park cars or recreational vehicles over dry vegetation. Exhaust systems can reach temperatures of more than 1,000 degrees; hot enough to start a wildfire during the summer.
· Use an approved spark arrester on off-road vehicles and chainsaws. Check and replace spark arresters periodically.
· Fireworks, including sparklers, are always illegal on National Forest lands. The penalty for violators is a maximum of six months in prison and/or $5,000 fine. Anyone responsible for starting a wildfire may also be held responsible for the cost of putting it out and for damage caused.