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BLM Royal Gorge Field Office elevates to Stage 2 fire restrictions in southern Colorado counties

In a swiftly-drying state, in a parched southwest, a press release late Wednesday afternoon from the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Royal Gorge Field Office announced that it will enter into Stage 2 fire restrictions tomorrow, May 19 due to dry conditions and high fire danger in southern Colorado. But the announcement is a split decision.

Sand Gulch Campground on BLM land, Shelf Road sites near Cañon City, Colorado. Image courtesy Manic Exploration/Pinterest

While Lake and Chaffee counties will remain (for the time being) in Stage 1 restrictions, the Stage 2 fire restrictions apply to all BLM-administered public lands within the boundaries of Park, Teller, El Paso, Fremont, Custer, Pueblo, Otero, Bent, Huerfano, Las Animas, and Baca counties, until further notice.

Northern Colorado fire cooperators will meet tomorrow to determine whether conditions warrant elevating to Stage 2 in that area. A fire that began Tuesday near Pagosa Springs grew swiftly, spurring pre-evacuation and evacuation orders in and around the town.

“Wildfire ignitions in south-central Colorado are increasing, and the draw of resources to large fires in New Mexico is limiting the availability of firefighters and equipment for fire suppression,” said Royal Gorge Field Manager Keith Berger. “Due to continued dry conditions and high fire danger, I am elevating fire restrictions on BLM lands in certain southern Colorado counties to Stage 2.”

Under Stage 2 Fire Restrictions the following acts are prohibited:

  • Building, maintaining, attending, or using a fire, campfire, charcoal barbecue, or grills are prohibited on federal lands. The use of portable stoves, lanterns using gas, jellied petroleum, or pressurized liquid fuel are permitted.
  • Smoking, except in an enclosed vehicle or building, a developed recreation site, or while stopped in an area at least three feet in diameter that is barren or cleared of all flammable materials.
  • Operating a chainsaw without a USDA or SAE approved spark arrester properly installed and working, a chemical fire extinguisher of not less than 8 ounces capacity by weight, and one round point shovel with an overall length of at least 36 inches.
  • Using a welder, either arc or gas, or operating acetylene or other torches with open flame.
  • Using exploding targets.

These fire restrictions are in addition to the year-round wildfire prevention restrictions on BLM-administered public lands in Colorado. These are:

  • Leaving a fire unattended or extinguished.
  • Possession, discharge, or use of any fireworks.
  • Discharge of a firearm using incendiary or tracer ammunition.
  • Burn, ignite, or cause to burn any tire, wire, magnesium, or any other hazardous or explosive material.
  • Operate any off-road vehicle on public lands unless the vehicle is equipped with a properly installed spark arrester pursuant to 43 CFR 8343.1 (c).

For information about BLM Colorado Fire restrictions visit BLM Colorado Fire Restrictions. For general information about fire restrictions on all lands in Colorado, visit Colorado Emergency Management. The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land located primarily in 12 western states, including Alaska, on behalf of the American people.