County implements Stage 1 fire restrictions

By John Finefrock
Staff Writer

Stage 1 fire restrictions will go into effect on all private lands in unincorporated Archuleta County at 5:30 a.m. tomorrow, Wednesday, May 20.

The restrictions do not apply to the Town of Pagosa Springs, tribal lands or national forest, according to Archuleta County Undersheriff Derek Woodman.

On Tuesday afternoon, the Archuleta County Board of County Commissioners (BoCC) unanimously passed a resolution that states the following acts are prohibited, beginning Wednesday morning, until further notice:

• “Building, maintaining, attending, or using a fire, campfire, coal or wood burning stove, any type of charcoal fueled broiler, or open fire of any type in undeveloped areas. The fire restrictions do not include charcoal fires in suitable containers or gas grills for barbecues at private residences or fires within designated campground pits with protective grates,” the resolution reads.

• Agricultural burning. “Burning of crop land, fields, rangeland, debris burning, slash piles, prescribed burning and weed burning are prohibited.”

• “Using explosive material (i.e., fireworks, blasting caps, or any incendiary device which may result in the ignition of flammable material). The fire restrictions do not include local community fireworks displays that have been, or may be, approved and permitted by the Archuleta [County] Sheriff.”

• “Operating or using any internal combustion engine is prohibited unless it is equipped with a working spark-arresting device.”

• Smoking is limited to vehicles, buildings, developed recreational areas, or 3-foot-wide areas clear of vegetation.

Cutting and welding operations must have 40 pounds worth of fire extinguishers or a pressurized water supply immediately available.

The resolution states the fire restrictions shall remain in effect until amended or rescinded by either Archuleta County Sheriff Rich Valdez or the BoCC.

Pagosa Springs Town Manager Andrea Phillips outlined what the town will most likely do regarding fire restrictions in an email Tuesday morning.

“We typically follow what the County is doing in terms of fire restrictions, considering the recommendation of the Emergency Manager and/or Sheriff and also the Pagosa Fire Protection District … So, we will likely bring our own restrictions ordinance to Council for consideration if the Commissioners pass one-especially if it goes to Stage 2. We also consider what the SJ [San Juan] national forest is doing as well,” she wrote.

The BoCC’s decision comes as the National Weather Service has issued a red flag warning for some areas of southwest Colorado below 9,500 feet, which includes Archuleta County. The warning is due to gusty winds, low relative humidity and dry fuels.

The warning is in effect from 11 a.m. today, May 19, to midnight tonight.

The full resolution can be read at http://www.archuletacounty.org/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Item/8064?fileID=6489 or by clicking the link in the BoCC’s May 19 regular meeting agenda, which is posted on the county’s website.

john@pagosasun.com

This story was posted on May 19, 2020.