The Crestone Eagle • May, 2020

Local fire ban now in force:  No fires, no smoking outdoors

by Carolina Brown

Both Saguache County and the U.S. Forest Service have declared strict fire bans, based on weather conditions and the coronavirus. The declarations prohibit fires and smoking outdoors.

Dry, windy weather reminds us how vulnerable we are to wildfire. The coronavirus situation has added to risks and restrictions because fire-fighting and/or search and rescue operations may be limited due to virus-related challenges. In addition,  visitors may be attracted to our area when parks like the Sand Dunes are closed, as are most campgrounds and visitor centers.

Now is a good time to make note of the local rules about the use of fire. Some fire restrictions are temporary. Some are permanent. We’re all responsible for knowing what the current situation is, and informing our visitors.

Saguache County fire ban

On April 21, the Saguache County Commissioners approved a county-wide fire ban, at Level 1. This covers Crestone, the Baca Grande, Moffat and the entire county. The ban prohibits:

Building, maintaining, attending or using a fire, campfire,or any type of charcoal-fueled broiler or BBQ grill;

Burning  trash;

Using explosive material such as fireworks;

Smoking, except within an enclosed vehicle or building;

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

Under the Level 1 ban, fires within stoves within an enclosed building or RV are permitted, as well as mechanical stoves and appliances fueled by bottled or liquid gas which allow the operator to turn the flame on and off. Chainsaws with spark arrestors are permitted.

U.S. Forest Service

For now, tight restrictions are in place regarding the use of fire, until further notice.

No fires are permitted on any U.S. Forest Service lands in our region.

This temporarily outlaws campfires, BBQs, bonfires, etc.

No smoking, except within an enclosed vehicle, trailer or building.

The only stoves allowed are pressurized liquid or gas devices (stoves, grills or lanterns) with shut-off valves—if they are used in an area at least 3 feet from any flammable materials.

Violations are considered a violation of the law and may result in fines and possible jail time, according to the Forest Service news release.

Trails, trailheads and parking areas are open, although restrooms and other facilities might not be maintained. Campgrounds in our area are closed, including North Crestone campground. Under the State of Colorado “Stay at Home” and “Safer at Home” orders, people are asked to stay home and not travel outside their local area for recreation and camping.

Baca Grande common lands (“Greenbelts,” etc.)

No camping and no fires of any kind, at any time. This is a permanent rule.

If you see a campfire or any fire, call 911. For non-emergency situations, call the County Sheriff at 719-655-2544.

Baca Grande private homes & lots

Under the Saguache County fire ban, no fires and no outdoor smoking.

Baca Fire Department provides site inspections for any and all types of fire—such as ceremonies, parties or burning yard waste, trash, construction materials, etc. to increase safety.

For info, contact Baca Fire Chief Jim Vanderpool at 719-256-4171 or fire@bacapoa.org.

If you see a  fire on private land, call 911. For non-emergency situations, call the County Sheriff at 719-655-2544.

POA staff has committed to contact the lot owner or home owner (in non-emergency situations).

Town of Crestone

The Town’s nuisance code prohibits creating any smoke or odors, thus fires are not allowed on private or public land.

Free pick-up of brush is provided to Town residents (at the property line); call Town Hall at 719-256-4313.