The Boulder County Sheriff's Office has banned open burning and other activities in western Boulder County as the fire danger is increasing due to hot, dry weather and the fact that firefighting resources are strained by large wildfires elsewhere in the region.
The ban encompasses essentially the entire county west of Colo. 93, Broadway in Boulder and U.S. 36, along with all of the Rabbit Mountain Open Space area and to the west of its western boundary, according to a news release.
People violating the county's ban are subject to a $1,000 fine and higher fines are possible for subsequent offenses in addition to civil penalties.
The ban prohibits open burning, use of explosives, shooting except by licensed hunters, fireworks; smoking outside of closed vehicles, developed recreation sites or stopped in an area at least 3 feet in diameter clear of flammable items; operating a chainsaw without a spark arrester and fire extinguisher and a shovel handy; welding except in cleared areas 10 feet in diameter.
Fires are allowed in constructed, permanent fire pits and grates in developed recreations sites and on private lands. Portable stoves, lanterns using gas, jellied petroleum, or pressurized liquid fuel and fully enclosed sheepherder-type stove with a quarter inch spark arrester-type screen are also permitted.
The ban does not extend to incorporated areas of the county like towns and cities, but residents in those areas must abide by local ordinances.
Also Tuesday, stage one fire restrictions were expanded on the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forest to include all National Forest system lands in the Boulder Ranger District due to a forecast of continuing dry and warm conditions and in support of additional counties enacting fire restrictions.
The sheriff's office has enacted its ban, in part, because of the hot weather, but also because of large wildfires burning elsewhere in the state straining fire fighting resources. The 416 fire burning near Durango has scorched more than 23,000 acres and led to the closure of the San Juan National Forest for the first time in its 113-year history, the Denver Post reported on Tuesday.
Fires affecting more than 10,000 acres are also burning in northern and southern New Mexico, and crews are also on the scene of large fires ongoing in Utah, Arizona and elsewhere in Colorado.
A fire that broke out near Gross Reservoir on Monday is still under investigation but Boulder County spokeswoman Carrie Haverfield said that it is believed to have been caused by a campfire.
The fire was reported around 2 p.m. Monday in the area of 3927 Gross Dam Road. At one point it was said to be about 75 feet by 50 feet in size and led to closures of nearby trails and recreation areas.
The National Weather Service is forecasting high temperatures in the 80s Wednesday and Thursday with temperatures dropping into the 70s on Saturday and Sunday in Boulder County. A slight chance of thunderstorms exists in the afternoons.