Hot and Dry: Mesa County Enters Stage 1 Fire Restrictions
To nobody's surprise, Mesa County is implementing stage 1 fire restrictions on Friday, June 18.
Restrictions Have Come Early
Summer fire restrictions are common in western Colorado, but this year's mandate has come early. In 2020, stage 1 fire restrictions were not implemented until June 26. Ironically, at the moment the press release arrived at the radio station, it was raining like crazy in Grand Junction. This year, the fire restrictions take effect at 12:01 am on Friday.
Drought Conditions In Mesa County
This year, our rains have been few and far between and have produced very little moisture. Mesa County is experiencing what has been classified as Exceptional and Extreme Drought conditions. Between the extremely dry conditions and record heat, the potential for dangerous wildfires is great. The fire restrictions apply to all of Mesa County including BLM land.
Andy Martsolf is the Mesa County Sheriff's Office Emergency Services Director. He says we are starting off the fire season worse off than last year.
The stage is set for potentially longer duration and more hazardous fire season. This year more than ever we need the community's help to prevent fires. Together we can significantly reduce the human-caused fires by being proactive and cautious with activities that could ignite a wildfire.
Here's What the Restrictions Mean
- Personal use of fireworks is prohibited. Professional fireworks may be allowed through a permitting process.
- Campfires are allowed only in designated fire pits or rings.
- Smoking in open areas is not allowed except within an enclosed vehicle or building, a developed recreation site, or while stopped in an area of at least six feet diameter that has no combustible materials.
- Open burning of yard waste or fields is prohibited except for agricultural burns with a permit.
Penalties For Violations
Causing a fire during fire restrictions results in stiff penalties. Fines could be up to $100,000 and or imprisonment up to 18 months. Additionally, you could be held financially responsible for any damage caused.
Let's All Do Our Part
You can get more specific information about fire restrictions from the Mesa County Sheriff's Office. The main thing is for everyone to abide by the restrictions and to use extra caution when you're outdoors. Obviously, you should never leave a campfire unattended, and cigarette butts should be extinguished and disposed of in an appropriate container and not on the ground.
It looks like we are in store for a hot dry summer - and the threat of wildfires is huge. We all just need to be extra careful as well as exercise some common sense in the outdoors. We can't do anything about lightning-caused fires, but we certainly can take steps to avoid a human-caused wildfire that could be devastating.
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