DENVER — Some Front Range counties implemented temporary fire restrictions Thursday ahead of what was being called the most dangerous day for wildfires this year.
Boulder, Jefferson, Douglas, Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests’ Clear Creek, Boulder and Canyon Lakes ranger districts, Clear Creek, Gilpin and Park are among the places that enacted temporary Stage 1 fire bans due to dry and windy conditions that are forecast for Friday, resulting in extreme fire danger.
“The combination of everything coming together on Friday could make it the worst day we’ve seen since the Marshall Fire day,” said Paul Schlatter, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Boulder.
Stage 1 fire restrictions generally ban the use of fireworks, outdoor smoking and open burning of any kind.
The City of Lakewood has also issued a citywide fire ban until 9 p.m. on Friday.
Banned activities include:
- Recreational fires
- Open burning
- Welding or operating of acetylene or other torches with an open flame except within an area that is barren or cleared of all combustible material
- Operation or use of handheld internal combustion engine devices
- Model rockets in city parks
- Fires of any kind including charcoal or gas grills in city parks and open space areas
- Smoking except within an enclosed vehicle, building or a barren outdoor area less than 6 feet in diameter cleared of all combustible material
Boulder County restrictions also prohibit:
- Discharging firearms except for hunting with a valid license on public land.
- Operating a chainsaw without a USDA or SAE-approved spark arrester.
- Welding or operating an open-flame torch except in cleared areas of at least 10 feet and with a fire extinguisher immediately available.
- Using an explosive.
- Parking vehicles in grass or vegetated areas that can come in contact with the underside of the vehicle.
Counties with Stage 2 restrictions
On Thursday afternoon, Arapahoe and Adams counties enacted Stage 2 fire restrictions.
Arapahoe County restricted burning in unincorporated areas of the county, which include Centennial, Foxfield and Deer Trail. No fireworks or any other outdoor fires are permitted. That includes, but is not limited to:
- Fires in constructed, permanent fire pits
- Fire grates within developed camp and picnic grounds and recreation sites
- Charcoal fueled fires
- Warming fires
- Fires in outdoor wood-burning stoves (chimney sparks or embers)
- Prescribed burning of fence lines, fence rows, fields, farmlands, rangelands, wildlands, trash, and debris
Adams County's Stage 2 fire ban prohibits the following:
- Tiki torches
- Fire pits
- Sky lanterns
- Trash burning
Earlier Thursday, Boulder County warned people to be very careful of anything that could create a spark or flame. By Thursday evening, they too, had issued Stage 1 fire restrictions.
Boulder Fire Rescue (BFR) said opening burning is never allowed in city limits and that on Red Flag days, such as Friday, opening burning is prohibited in the entirety of Boulder County.
The City of Boulder increases staffing of wildland capable firefighters and engines on days when there's an increased risk of wildfire growth, BFR said in a news release.
"On these days, you may see fire personnel patrolling the neighborhoods in wildland firefighting trucks or moving engines to different locations to best meet response needs," according to the BFR release. "Increasing staffing also helps ensure that the department will have firefighters ready to respond to all emergency calls in the city that may occur on any given day."
Fire agencies have already fought multiple fires starting this week in locations including Boulder County and Monte Vista.
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On Friday, a strong storm system is projected to bring high winds to the state. Combined with what might be the driest air we've seen this year, counties are on high alert.
“Combined with temperatures in the 80s and extremely dry air, any fire that gets started is going to quickly get out of control,” Schlatter said.
He said Friday's conditions could rival any of the bad wildfire days we've seen in recent years, including the Marshall Fire. But even with terrible fire weather conditions, there is no trouble unless there's a spark.
This story includes previous reporting by Cory Reppenhagen.
Below: Colorado Emergency Management map of fire restrictions in the state:
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