The Mesa County Sheriff, along with the Bureau of Land Management and the Fire Chiefs representing municipalities and fire protection districts of Mesa County, are implementing Stage 1 Fire Restrictions effective tomorrow.

The very instant this press release arrived in my email it was raining like crazy in Grand Junction. Predicting weather in Western Colorado is like blindfolding a monkey and having it throw darts at a dartboard. In any case, Stage 1 Fire Restrictions go into effect at precisely 12:01 a.m. on Friday, June 26, 2020.

The first order of business - what exactly constitutes Stage 1 Fire Restrictions? According to the press release from the Mesa County Fire Chief's Association, Stage 1 Fire Restrictions prohibit:

  •  Personal use of fireworks
  • Campfires outside of designated fire pits or fire rings
  • Agricultural open burning without a Sheriff’s issued burn permit
  • Use of explosive targets
  • Smoking outside near combustible materials

Two of the items on the list, namely Campfires outside of designated fire pits or fire rings and smoking outside near combustible materials sound like good words of advice at any given time. I don't care if it's monsoon season near the Amazon River, I'm not about to fire up a cigarette while standing next to a stack of cans filled with paint thinner.

I’m concerned with the level of fire danger we are seeing, one spark could quickly spread into a dangerous wildfire threatening lives, property and natural resources.” - Mesa County Sheriff Matt Lewis

According to the Mesa County Sheriff's Office News, so far in 2020, we’ve had 15 Red Flag Warnings, which is more than what we typically see over an entire year.

Now for the big question - what if someone violates these restrictions? The press release from the MCSO states if someone were to start a fire during the restrictions, that could be a class 6 felony resulting in fines up to $100,000 and/or up-to 18 months imprisonment. A person can also be held financially responsible for resulting damage.

The Stage 1 Fire Restrictions going into effect on Friday, June 26, apply to all of Mesa County including BLM land, with the exception of areas managed by the U.S. Forest Service.

Looking at the first few days of the fire restriction, June 26 through the 29, the National Weather Service predicts skies will be sunny and clear, with highs in the mid-90s.

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