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Eagle County sheriff enacts stage 1 fire restrictions as result of COVID-19 crisis

April 9, 2020, 8:33 pm

Eagle County Sheriff James Van Beek in collaboration with local fire chiefs agreed to follow suit of the United States Forest Service fire restrictions announced on Wednesday and to sign into action the first fire restrictions ordinance for 2020. Beginning Saturday, April 11, 2020, at (midnight) 12:01 a.m., all of unincorporated Eagle County (including Federal Lands) will collaboratively be placed under Stage 1 fire restrictions.

Eagle County Sheriff James Van Beek
Sheriff James van Beek

Sheriff Van Beek states that “We are under pressure of the current global COVID-19 virus pandemic and local, state and federal officials all agree that fire restrictions are a necessity for the health and safety of those struggling with respiratory issues related to the COVID-19 virus. Further, we must keep in mind that a wildfire could greatly affect emergency resources available to our highly populated areas.” These restrictions are being implemented to help not only in reducing the strain on local emergency services but to assist those struggling with respiratory issues. “As a community, we must all do our part to support the health and well-being of our neighbors.”  (Sheriff James Van Beek)

White River National Forest, Eagle-Holy Cross Ranger District’s (acting) District Ranger stated to local officials that “These fire restrictions are not based on current fire risk (we still have a lot of snow in places), rather they are in place so that key emergency staff is available to support community fire response and other health-related emergencies when needed.” 

Read the full USFS Order #: R2-2020-02 Fire Ordinance HERE 

Fire restriction updates from last year will again be utilized for 2020 which helped to clarify fire restrictions with what is allowed and not allowed. We ask that everyone review those updates which include the implementation of automatic fire restrictions during periods of a ‘Red Flag Warning’ throughout unincorporated Eagle County (excluding Federal lands). Anytime the National Weather Service issues a Red Flag Warning for our area, fire restrictions will automatically be implemented.

This means that Eagle County will automatically move into fire restrictions during the specific time frame of a 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 (excluding Federal lands) will automatically move into Stage 1 Fire Restrictions. The fire restrictions listed in the attached image under (yellow) “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 (excluding Federal lands) will then automatically move into “Stage 2 Fire Restrictions”. The fire restrictions listed in the attached image under (red) “Stage 2 Red Flag Restricted Activity” will be implemented throughout the duration of the Red Flag Warning.

*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 red flag warning is a forecast warning issued by the National Weather Service to inform area firefighting and land management agencies that conditions are ideal for wildland fire combustion and rapid spread. *After drought conditions, when humidity is very low, and especially when there are high or erratic winds which may include lightning as a factor, the Red Flag Warning becomes a critical statement for firefighting agencies.
•    A map depicting the areas of Eagle County affected by fire restrictions can be found  HERE. 
•     In addition, the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office strongly encourages citizens to stay aware of the latest emergency and weather notifications by signing up for EC Alerts at www.ecalert.org.

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