Governor Polis Enacts State-wide Fire Restrictions
High temperatures and dry conditions have resulted in high fire danger and extreme fire behavior throughout much of Colorado. The entire state is experiencing abnormally dry or drought conditions, and approximately sixty percent of the State is in severe or extreme drought conditions as classified by the United States Drought Monitor. Already this year, 797 wildfires have burned over 184,766 acres across the State. These conditions attest to the continuing threat to life, health, and property posed by wildfires on Colorado’s public and private lands. Fire restrictions are currently in place in 46 counties.
As of September 7, 2020, the Pine Gulch Fire in Mesa and Garfield Counties has burned over 139,007 acres, making it the largest fire in Colorado history. The Grizzly Creek Fire in Garfield County has burned over 32,460 acres, forced the closure of Interstate 70, and threatened critical infrastructure. The Cameron Peak Fire has burned 102,596 acres in Larimer County with only 4% containment.
Given these facts, conditions of extreme fire hazard exist across the State.The Governor's Executive Order temporarily restricts fires in the State of Colorado, with limited exceptions, to reduce the risk of new fires and protect health and safety.
The Governor's fire restrictions include the following:
- Any outdoor fire except as specifically allowed below, including but not limited to campfires, warming fires, and charcoal grill fires;
- Smoking, except in an enclosed vehicle or building, a developed recreation site, or while stopped in an area at least six (6) feet in diameter that is barren or cleared of all flammable material;
- Operating a chainsaw without a United States Department of Agriculture or Society of Automotive Engineers approved spark arrester properly installed and in effective working order, a chemical pressurized fire extinguisher kept with the operator, and one (1) round point shovel with an overall length of at least thirty-five (35) inches readily available for use;
- Welding or operating acetylene or other torch with open flame except in cleared areas of at least ten (10) feet in diameter and in possession of a chemical pressurized fire extinguisher;
- The use of tracer ammunition or any ammunition with an incendiary component, and the use of novel explosive shooting targets with Tannerite or other similar substances, that would explode and create heat or fire upon impact; and
- Any other activity that poses a significant risk of starting a fire.
The fire restrictions in this Executive Order do not include fires in:
- Liquid-fueled or gas-fueled stoves;
- Fireplaces contained within buildings;
- Charcoal grills at private residences;
- Constructed, permanent fire pits or fire grates within developed camp and picnic grounds or recreation sites;
- Portable stoves, lanterns using gas, jellied petroleum, pressurized liquid fuel, or a fully enclosed (sheepherder type) stove with a one-quarter (0.25) inch spark arrester type screen; and
- Fires in connection with prescribed or controlled burns for agricultural or irrigation purposes along ditches located within and completely surrounded by irrigated farmlands where such burning is necessary for crop survival and where specific written approval has been granted by the sheriff of the county where the prescribed burn will occur.