Campfires, charcoal grills, and outdoor smoking are included in the next round of fire restrictions in Mesa County.

For the last 6 weeks or so, Mesa County has been in Stage 1 fire restrictions. That is not unusual for a western Colorado summer, which typically is extremely hot and dry. Stage 2 takes those restrictions to the next level. The fire danger is extremely high right now with hot temperatures, dry conditions and low humidity, and gusty, erratic winds.

Mesa County Sheriff’s Office Fire Behavior Analyst Timothy Foley says, "Right now, extreme fire behavior has become the norm driven by critically dry fuel conditions.  Any new starts have the potential to exhibit extreme fire behavior as well."

You'll notice, Foley used the word "extreme", which explains some of the extreme measures that are now being implemented. Many people will be impacted by these restrictions relayed to us by the Mesa County Sheriff's Office.

* Smoking outdoors is now prohibited. For right now, smoking is allowed only in enclosed vehicles and buildings.

* Building, maintaining, or using a fire, campfire, charcoal grill, coal, wood-burning stove, sheepherder’s stove, tiki torches, fire pits, and chimineas including in developed picnic, camping areas, and at private residences is prohibited. Gas grills are not included in this restriction.

* There should be no parking or driving a motor vehicle off established roads, motorized trails, or established parking areas unless the parking area has no vegetation within 10 feet of the vehicle.

* The use of ANY fireworks is prohibited.
* Any unpermitted use of fire to burn debris or vegetation is not allowed.
* Shooting tracer rounds or explosive type targets or the use of explosives including fuses, blasting caps, and rockets is prohibited.

* Welding or operating acetylene or other torches with an open flame is not allowed except in cleared areas of at least 10 ft in diameter and in possession of a chemical pressurized fire extinguisher.

* Operating an internal combustion engine such as a chainsaw, generator or ATV, without a spark arresting device installed and working properly is not allowed. Chainsaws also have to be operated with a chemical pressurized fire extinguisher and a shovel nearby.

For further clarification, here's what is allowed.

Only devices that are liquid-fueled or gas-fueled are permitted.  Gas grills, stoves or lanterns with shut-off valves may be used at least three feet away from flammable materials such as dry vegetation.

* Gas fire pits are allowed under a fire ban as the fire can be “turned off” rather than “put out.”

* Agricultural burns only with a SHERIFF’S OFFICE ISSUED PERMIT.

Stage 2 Fire Restrictions go into effect at 12:01am Friday, August 14. This order applies to all of Mesa County, including the Colorado National Monument, BLM administered public lands with the EXCEPTION of land managed by the U.S. Forest Service.

On a daily basis, we are witnessing the devastating effects of Colorado wildfires, which should be evidence enough to motivate everyone to cooperate in complying with these temporary restrictions.

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