Due to continued dry and dangerous conditions, on Friday, June 22, Saguache County Sheriff Mike Norris announced that a Stage 2 fire ban was in effect for Saguache County—increasing fire restrictions and banning open fires. The Forest Service, public lands and Town of Crestone also have Stage 2 fire bans.   All fireworks and open fires are banned and even smoking outside is prohibited.  Campfires, even those in designated campgrounds are now prohibited. Norris said “In collaborating with the Forest Service and other Counties in the San Luis Valley, it has been determined that we are in a very ‘high’ fire danger, and approaching ‘extreme’. In light of all the tragic fires in the State of Colorado, I feel that due to these terribly dry conditions, it is a matter of public safety to take every precaution to having a catastrophic fire event. I know fire restrictions are an inconvenience in a lot of ways, but I ask that everyone become fire wise until mother nature blesses us with some rain and a turn around to these conditions.”

Colorado has many large active fires, and the entire state has been extremely dry. People are asked to take extra caution with any materials or activity that could spark a fire, to avoid driving onto dry grass and to report any suspicious smoke or activities quickly.

The San Luis Valley has been receiving smoke from large fires in Colorado and New Mexico.  Information on fires is available on www.inciweb.org.

The fire ban ordinance below lists the current restrictions:

Pursuant to Saguache County Ordinance 2012-6, AN ORDINANCE AUTHORIZING THE DECLARATION OF OPEN FIRE BANS BY THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS OR THE COUNTY SHERIFF, I have determined that Stage 2 fire restrictions need to be implemented due to the “high” fire danger in Saguache County which is approaching “extreme”. The following will now apply under Section II. Prohibited Activities of Ordinance 2012-6:

SECTION II. PROHIBITED ACTIVITIES:

(1)   The following activities are deemed to be “open fires” for the purposes of this Ordinance and are subject to ban:

A. Building, maintaining, attending or using an open fire to burn trash, debris, fence rows, or vegetation, any campfire (including in Forest Service Campgrounds), warming fire, or charcoal grill. (Propane grill fires are allowed).

B.   Lighting of fireworks of any kind, explosives, blasting caps, or any incendiary which may result in the ignition of flammable material.

C. Smoking, except in an enclosed vehicle or building.

D. Welding or operating an acetylene or other torch with open flame.

E. Disposing of any burning material or material hot enough to cause the ignition of weeds or grass such as cigarette or cigar butts or hot coals, except in a fireproof receptacle designed for such disposal.

F. The use of chainsaws and other internal combustion engines unless equipped with a spark arrestor, and accompanied onsite by a chemical pressurized fire extinguisher of not less than 8 ounces weight capacity, and a size 0 or larger round pointed shovel with an overall length of at least 36 inches.

(2) the following person(s) shall be exempt from the provisions of this Ordinance:

A.   Persons with a valid permit or authorization from the Saguache County Sheriff specifically authorizes the otherwise prohibited act.

B.   Any federal, state, or local officer or member of an organized rescue or firefighting force in the performance of an official duty.

by Kizzen Laki