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Fire danger steadily increasing in Eagle County, across Western Slope

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August 30, 2019, 12:01 pm

Fire danger is on the rise in Eagle County and across Colorado’s Western Slope as a lack of moisture, hot temperatures and high winds have conspired to dry out the state’s forests, according to the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office.

ECSO put out the following press release on Thursday, and temperatures are expected to increase throughout the Labor Day weekend:

Due to the more favorable weather conditions and moisture this summer throughout Eagle County, firerestrictions have not had to be permanently implemented to date.  However, at the current rate, without significant moisture to our area, we anticipate implementing fire restrictions in the next few weeks. 

Currently, some areas of Eagle County are significantly drier than others and fire officials are asking everyone to use caution and common sense even without restrictions. 

A few examples:
•    Smoke inside or in a cleared area 
•    Build small fires only in established fire rings
•    Always extinguish fires completely (cold to the touch), and never leave a fire unattended!
•    No fireworks! 
•    Explosives, shooting exploding targets and tracer rounds are prohibited on undeveloped lands.

Fire managers base decisions about fire restrictions on specific moisture measurements in vegetation and other risk factors such as predicted weather and amount of current fire activity.

The summer weather normally brings warmer, drier weather conditions and we now have an increased risk for wildland fires. Wildfires are a part of living on Colorado’s Western Slope. It is important for homeowners and communities to be prepared for wildfires.  The Eagle County Sheriff’s Office would like to encourage residents to take personal responsibility and prepare before a wildland fireoccurs. 

Homes in or near forested areas are classified as ‘Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) areas’ and are at risk in any wildfire event. Many locations have difficult access, dense vegetation, steep slopes, and poor or no water supply for fire suppression. To prevent a tragedy, you need to be aware of wildfire hazards and what to do when a wildfire occurs in your area. 

To help mitigate the dangers around your home, you can obtain guidelines for creating a “defensible space” around your property that will increase the chances that your home may survive a wildfire. 

The Eagle County Sheriff’s Office would like to remind citizens that the Sheriff recently signed a new fire restrictions ordinance in June of 2019. This allows the implementation of automatic firerestrictions throughout unincorporated Eagle County anytime a Red Flag warning is issued by the National Weather Service for our area. 

This means that Eagle County will automatically move to fire restrictions during the time frame of the Red Flag Warning, without any further action from the Sheriff. During times that Eagle County is not implementing regular fire restrictions and a Red Flag Warning is issued, all of unincorporated Eagle County will automatically move into Stage 1 FireRestrictions and the restrictions listed in the attached image under ‘Stage 1 Red Flag Restricted Activity’ will be implemented throughout the duration of the Red Flag Warning. 

In the event that Eagle County has already enacted Stage 1 Fire Restrictions and a Red Flag Warning is issued, all of unincorporated Eagle County will automatically move to Stage 2 Fire Restrictions and the restrictions listed in the attached image under ‘Stage 2 Red Flag Restricted Activity’ will be implemented throughout the duration of the Red Flag Warning. 

All fire restrictions information and the new ordinance can be found at www.ecemergecny.orgunder the ‘Eagle County Fire Restrictions Info” tab. 

*Undeveloped Lands: Lands that are not groomed, manicured or watered, where grasses, brush, and trees have been allowed to grow in a natural environment. This includes green belts that are not landscaped or manicured, open space lands, non-manicured parklands, and other areas where the fire hazard presented by the vegetation is determined to be an undue wildland fire hazard. 

*Portable Outdoor Fireplace: A portable outdoor, solid fuel-burning fireplace that may be constructed of steel, concrete, clay or other non-combustible material and equipped with a screen or other approved spark arrestor. A portable outdoor fireplace may be open in design or may be equipped with a small hearth opening and a short chimney or chimney on top.

A map depicting the areas of Eagle County affected by fire restrictions can be found at http://www.ecemergency.org/p/eagle-county-fire-restrictions-info.html

In addition, the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office strongly encourages citizens to stay aware of the latest emergency and weather text notifications by signing up for EC Alert at www.ecalert.org.

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