Fire Restrictions

Commissioners enact Stage 1 restrictions
south of Highway 160

The La Plata County Board of County Commissioners enacted restrictions effective at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, June 28, 2017 on open burning south of Highway 160 in the unincorporated private land and state land areas of La Plata County. The fire restrictions were enacted by the La Plata County Board of County Commissioners upon the recommendation of Sheriff Sean Smith and the Chiefs of the local fire districts.

“We have had good moisture through the winter and spring months that has led to dense ground fuels,” said Butch Knowlton, Director of Emergency Management.  “Those grasses and smaller fuels at the lower elevations have now dried and created conditions that allow for rapid fire development and movement.”

The fire restrictions prohibit open burning, burn barrels and agricultural burning on private property and State lands south of Highway 160 in the unincorporated private land areas of La Plata County. The use of a campfire, coal or wood-burning stove, any type of charcoal grill or open fire in any undeveloped area is prohibited.  The fire restrictions do not include charcoal fires in suitable containers or gas grills for barbecues at private residences or fires within designated campground pits with protective grates; however, residents and visitors alike must not to leave these fires unattended and must carefully and fully extinguish them after use.  

The open flame prohibitions also include the following: 

  • Smoking is limited to vehicles, buildings, developed recreational areas and 3-foot-wide areas cleared of vegetation;
  • Fireworks are prohibited;
  • Use of explosive material is prohibited;
  • Use of any internal combustion engine is prohibited unless it is equipped with an approved and functioning spark-arresting device;
  • Welding and cutting operations must be conducted with a 20-foot radius safe zone free of vegetation with a 2.5 gallon pressurized fire extinguisher or 5 lb. ABC extinguisher or pressurized water supply and proper hand tools on site with a fire watch individual standing by continuously; and
  • Flaring for production wells may be allowed with approval from the designated fire chief.

A violation of the fire restrictions shall constitute a class 2 petty offense punishable by a fine of up to $300 for each violation.
The Southern Ute Indian Tribe has enacted similar Stage I fire restrictions for Tribal lands and Bureau of Land Management enacted Stage I fire restrictions on their lands in La Plata, Archuleta, Dolores, Montezuma, Montrose and San Miguel counties. 

The Forest Service will continue to closely monitor conditions, but has not gone to Stage 1 Fire restrictions at this time.  Most Forest Service lands in La Plata County are at higher elevations and currently, the conditions at the upper elevations are not dangerously dry and are ideal for managed fires.

The La Plata County fire management 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, local fire chiefs and County Director of Emergency Management.

Published on 07/05/2017