Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle
Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle (Camera file photo)
Fire restrictions enacted this week

Boulder County

What you can't do: The ban prohibits all outdoor burning in the ban zone, including campfires (except in maintained campgrounds), slash fires, fireworks, model rockets and everything else that produces a spark or flames.

What you can do: Indoor fireplaces and stoves are allowed, as are smoking in an enclosed vehicle or in places where there is no flammable material. Charcoal or gas grill use is allowed, as are campfires in improved, maintained campgrounds, so long as the fuel does not exceed 2 feet in diameter and 3 feet in height.

City of Boulder

What you can't do: All sources of fire, including smoking and gas or charcoal stoves/grills, are banned on all Open Space and Mountain Parks properties. Additionally, charcoal grills, including those already in the parks, may not be used in Chautauqua and Eben G. Fine city parks.

What you can do: Gas grills will be allowed in Chautauqua and Eben G. Fine parks with a permit. Permits, which require two weeks' notice and a $100 deposit, are available on the Boulder Parks and Recreation website, BoulderParks-Rec.org, or by phone at 303-413-7200.

Forecast

Thursday: Mostly sunny, high of 90. Small chance of storms.

Friday: Mostly sunny, high of 89. Small chance of storms.

Saturday: Sunny, high of 84

More info: weather.gov

After a string of 90-degree days and with wildfires burning across the state, Boulder County and city of Boulder officials on Wednesday announced a series of restrictions and regulations aimed at dampening fire danger locally.

Sheriff Joe Pelle has enacted a fire ban for the central mountain corridor portion of unincorporated Boulder County. The ban area includes all unincorporated Boulder County areas bordered by Colo. 93 and U.S. 36 to the east and Colo. 72 to the west between Coal Creek Canyon Drive to the south and South St. Vrain Drive to the north.

Boulder County Sheriff's Office Cmdr. Rick Brough said the heat wave along with several major fires across the state prompted the county ban.

"The main thing is the temperature and weather conditions, and we're seeing fires burning in the state right now so we're starting to see a lack of resources, so you have to take that into consideration, too," Brough said.

The city of Boulder followed the sheriff's lead Wednesday by implementing a ban on all sources of fire in Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks.

The measure includes a ban on smoking and camp stoves, according to city officials, as well as a ban on use of charcoal grills in the city's Chautauqua and Eben G. Fine parks.

Violators could be subject to up to 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Starting Thursday, Boulder Fire-Rescue crews, in conjunction with the Sheriff's Office, will conduct daily "severity patrols," during which they will inspect urban interface areas and nearby open space to keep a close eye on conditions and get a jump on any fires that may be spotted, officials said.

The three-person patrol teams will staff a specialized brush truck, designed to access rougher terrain than bigger trucks and outfitted with 300 gallons of water, hoses and tools for fighting wildfires.

"This proactive approach was also used last summer, when a crew on routine patrol was the first to respond at the scene of the Flagstaff fire," a city news release said. "That quick response, coupled with extensive mutual aid and timely aerial support, proved beneficial in limiting the fire to 300 acres."

Boulder has seen extreme heat this week, with temperatures climbing as high as 98 degrees Tuesday. Boulder meteorologist Matt Kelsch said temperatures will remain well above the average for this time of year, which is about 80 degrees.

Kelsch added that there is very little chance of moisture in the coming days to provide any relief.

"The chance of widespread rain is very, very, very tiny, and most of us will see nothing over the next couple of days," he said.

Any storms that do pass through could be lightning storms, he said, which could ignite new fires.

"That chance is also very small, but anything that we get will likely be more lightning than rain, and that's not what we want," Kelsch said.

Brough said although Boulder received a lot of moisture in April and early May, that moisture may have actually increased the fire danger.

"The thing with wet conditions early in the spring, you get all the growth of the grasses, but then the weather gets hot and dry and all that becomes fuel that feeds a fire," Brough said. "It's one of those things that is good initially but is bad when it dries out."

Elsha Kirby, a spokeswoman for the Boulder Ranger District of the U.S. Forest Service, said, based on fuel sampling and monitoring performed Wednesday, the Forest Service has not yet instituted a fire ban in national forests along the Front Range, though that could change quickly.

Even so, she said, the Boulder County ban is enforceable on national forest land that lies in the sheriff's boundary.

"We are monitoring conditions every day, and we ask that folks use caution when having a fire on national forest system lands," Kirby said.

The county ban prohibits all outdoor burning, fireworks, model rockets, slash fires and any other outdoor activities that produce sparks or flames.

The ban does allow for campfires in public campgrounds and charcoal or gas grill use.

Brough said the county ban is in effect until the fire risk decreases.

"We evaluate that all the time," he said. "A lot is going to depend on the weather conditions."

Contact Camera Staff Writer Mitchell Byars at 303-473-1329 or byarsm@dailycamera.com.