Fire enforcement to ramp up for holiday in Steamboat

Stage 2 fire restrictions

Stage 2 fire restrictions are in effect for all lands, public and private, throughout Routt County.

What’s prohibited under Stage 2 restrictions:

■ Open flames, including campfires, stove fires and use of charcoal grills. The use of propane grills is allowed.

■ Smoking, except within an enclosed vehicle or building.

■ Possessing or using fireworks or other pyrotechnic devices, including tracer ammunition.

■ Using explosives, including targets that could explode.

■ Using any internal or external combustion engines (such as chain saws) without a properly working spark arrester.

■ Possessing or using a vehicle off road except when parking in areas cleared of vegetation.

■ Welding or operating an acetylene or torch with an open flame.

— The cancellation of Wednesday's fireworks display at Howelsen Hill might allay the fears of local fire officials, but it’s not eliminating them.

The Steamboat Springs Police Department and Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue are planning increased patrols Wednesday, with a particular emphasis on fire prevention. Police Chief Joel Rae said fire prevention officers will patrol Steamboat neighborhoods Wednesday specifically looking for illegal fireworks.

This year, “illegal fireworks” refers to any firework that requires a flame to ignite. That means even sparklers are off-limits, part of an executive order from Gov. John Hickenlooper that bans the use of all private fireworks. That order, as well as Wednesday's increased enforcement, are the result of extreme drought conditions and elevated fire danger.

“The message is that no fireworks are allowed, period,” Rae said. “You can’t even smoke outside of your vehicle or a building.”

Stage 2 fire restrictions are in effect for all public and private lands throughout Routt County, including the national forest, state parks and the city of Steamboat Springs. The Steamboat Springs City Council approved an emergency ordinance Tuesday night to enact Stage 2 fire restrictions within city limits. Like the Stage 2 restrictions previously adopted by other government entities, those adopted by the city Tuesday ban all open flames, including campfires and the use of charcoal grills. Propane grills are allowed.

Rae and Steamboat Springs Fire Chief Mel Stewart agreed that the lack of private fireworks set off in the skies above Steamboat throughout the past week has been impressive.

“We want people to have a fun, festive and safe Fourth of July,” Rae said. “I think people are taking this seriously. I’m impressed with what we’ve seen so far in terms of the lack of fireworks.”

Nonetheless, Wednesday’s deployment of fire prevention officers is a first for the city on the Independence Day holiday, Stewart said.

“This year, we’re going to be really trying to keep a handle on it,” he said.

Rae encouraged residents to be vigilant about reporting possible violations. The police call log in the past week has included numerous instances of residents calling to report fireworks being set off.

“We want everyone to take every precaution possible so we don’t have any type of wildfire. That includes being a good neighbor and looking out for your property. If you hear fireworks going off, call Routt County Communications and report it.”

Routt County Communications can be reached at 970-879-1090.

Anyone caught violating the fire restrictions within city limits can be assessed a fine of as much as $999 in municipal court.

To reach Brent Boyer, call 970-871-4221 or email bboyer@SteamboatToday.com

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