Fire season has arrived and with the high temperatures, dry conditions and the wind, the High Country is currently at a HIGH for fire danger. HIGH is defined as “all fine dead fuels ignite readily and fires start easily from most causes. Unattended brush and camp fires are likely to escape. Fires spread rapidly and short-distance spotting is common. Fires may become serious and their control difficult unless they are attacked successfully while small. Outdoor burning should be restricted to early morning and late evening hours.”
Earlier this week, the wind carried in a smoke fueled haze from two fires currently burning in Southwest Colorado, the East Canyon fire and the Loading Pen fire, along with more than a dozen in Arizona and New Mexico. The haze was a definite reminder that a lightning strike, improperly extinguished campfires and backyard fire pits all pose potential threats to our mountain community.
Permits for Backyard Fires
To help reduce the threat, Summit County is now requiring residents to obtain a permit for backyard fires. According to a recent Summit Daily News article, ” backyard recreational fires must be kept under three feet in diameter and two feet high. Fires must also be confined to a permanent outdoor fire ring, a portable outdoor fireplace or a commercially-designed chiminea. Residents are also required to install a screen to prevent embers from escaping, and have a garden hose, fire extinguisher or five-gallon bucket of water nearby.”
Residents of the Summit Fire & EMS response area – including Copper Mountain, Dillon, Frisco, Keystone, Montezuma, Silverthorne and the unincorporated areas of Wildernest/Mesa Cortina and Summit Cove – can apply for a permit at https://www.communityconnect.io/info/co-summit. A profile needs to be completed for your home and then you can apply for a permit under the “Burn Permit” category. Once the profile is set up and the application complete, an inspector will contact you for next steps. Permits in Breckenridge can be obtained similarly from the Red White & Blue fire protection district’s Community Connect Portal. The process could take several days, depending on the volume of requests, so make sure that you don’t wait until Thursday or Friday if you want a fire that weekend.
When are Backyard Fires Allowed?
In addition to obtaining the permit, residents should be aware that backyard fires are only allowed when the fire danger is rated low or moderate, but will generally be prohibited when the danger level reaches high or very high. This past week however, the county did continue to allow backyard fires while the danger has been rated high, so we suspect they will be evaluating these risks continually. Fires could also be prohibited during “red flag” days, which is a “temporary warning indicating the presence of dangerous combinations of temperature, wind, relative humidity, fuel or drought conditions which can contribute to new fires or rapid spread of existing fires.” To keep up on all the latest emergency and non-emergency alerts in the county, sign up for the Summit County portal to CodeRED to receive important notices via text or email.
Are YOU Wildfire Ready?
There is a great website called Ready, Set, Go that will help you mitigate your property in preparation for wildfire. There are weekly challenges on their website, twitter, and IAFC Wildland Fire Programs Facebook. They also have downloadable resources such as Wildland Fire Preparedness for Seasonal Residents and Property Owners. You can also get this great Personal Wildfire Action Plan from Red White & Blue’s website.
Stay safe, stay healthy and get that backyard fire permit!