There are Currently No Fire Restriction in Hinsdale County
As we can readily see from hazy afternoon skies, fire season has started with a fury!
We all knew that the lack of snow this winter and the dry spring gave us a higher than normal potential for wildfires near our beautiful mountain town. The Hinsdale County Sheriff’s Office would like to give our residents and visitors some advice and perspective as we enjoy summer and pray for the regular afternoon rains to start.
1) Preparedness is key
a. The Sheriff’s Office, Fire Dept., EMS services and the BLM and Forest service have been diligently planning and preparing for a more active fire season. The quick response, team work and communication we have had during the small fire starts the last few weeks have been evidence that that planning and training was beneficial and is paying off!
b. Homeowners have their own preparedness to do as well. A well mitigated property has a much better chance of survival in the event of a wildfire. Keeping flammables away from your house, firewood off your deck, tree litter off the ground and keeping trees well limbed can all help reduce the likelihood of a structure catching fire.
a. The Sheriff’s Office does regular patrols of the forests in our county. We are always keeping an eye out for potential new fire starts. We also rely on a vigilant public to help us by calling in when they see something of concern that we should look into. When calling in smoke reports please work to differentiate between broad dispersed smoke and smoke coming from a specific origin. Broad smoke is usually blowing in from a large fire farther away while more consolidated smoke that is clearly rising and building is from a closer origin and is worth further investigation.
b. The Sheriff’s Office has several methods of communicating to the public if there is an emergency. We can utilize reverse 911 for emergency messages to landline phones, you can sign your cell phone up for reverse 911 through the Code Red system (a link to do this is on our website; www.hinsdalecountysheriff.com ), we regularly post updates on our website of emergency incident information. If there is a more imminent emergency the Sheriff’s Office will have a deputy personally going to the affected areas to make personal notifications.
c. It is vital during emergencies that people are making good decisions based off accurate information. One of the challenges in our modern age is how quickly misinformation can lead to poor decision making and undue alarm. Please be responsible to check with authoritative sources before making reactionary decisions or spreading incorrect information. The Hinsdale County website ( www.colorado.gov/hinsdalecounty) and the Sheriff’s Office website (www.hinsdalecountysheriff.com) are both regularly updated during incidents with current accurate information. Please check these sources when looking for information.
d. Fire restrictions are currently in effect. Please look at the Sheriff’s Office website for specific restrictions. If you have further questions call us for clarification. We urge people to be careful and err on the side of caution during this heightened fire season.
3) Emergency Response
a. We are thankful to live in a place that has a strong volunteer community mindset. Both our paid full time first responders and volunteer first responders love this community and are committed to serving and keeping us safe. Please thank and support them as they serve our community.
b. When we are in the middle of working an incident the cooperation and understanding of the public helps us to be able to focus our efforts and work more effectively and bringing the incident to a safer and swifter resolution.
c. Look for areas where you can volunteer and help out! There are many volunteer organizations in our community that need a wide variety of skills to be effective.
Thank you for your considerations and support as we all work together to protect our community.
The Hinsdale County Sheriff’s Office
Stage 1 Fire Restriction:
The FOLLOWING ARE PROHIBITED:
1. FIRES, CAMPFIRES, OR STOVE FIRES, including, but not limited to, CHARCOAL
GRILLS, hibachis, and coal or wood-burning stoves.
CAMPFIRE/STOVE Exceptions allowed:
• Campfires in Forest Service-provided, manufactured fire grates and grills
within Forest Service developed campgrounds and picnic grounds.
• Petroleum fueled stoves or lanterns that use gas, jellied petroleum, or
pressurized liquid fuel.
• Fully enclosed (sheepherder type) stove with a 1⁄4” spark arrester type screen.
2. SMOKING, except within an enclosed vehicle or building, or in a developed recreation site, or while stopped in an area at least 3 (three) feet in diameter that is barren or cleared of all flammable materials.
3. CHAINSAWS without a USDA Forest Service or SAE approved spark arrester. Operators must be in possession of a chemical pressurized fire extinguisher with a minimum rating of 2A and a round-pointed shovel with an overall length of at least 35 inches.
4. WELDING or operating acetylene or other torch with open flame, except in cleared areas of at least 10 feet in diameter and in possession of a chemical pressurized fire extinguisher with a minimum rating of 2A.
5. EXPLOSIVES, including fireworks, tracer bullets, and exploding targets.
Stage 2 Fire Restriction:
The FOLLOWING ARE PROHIBITED:
1. Building, maintaining, attending or using an OPEN FLAME, including fire, campfire, stove fire, charcoal grills and barbecues, coal and wood burning stoves, and devices (stoves, grills or lanterns) using liquid fuel such as white gas or kerosene. This prohibition applies to the entire San Juan National Forest, including Wilderness and developed camping and picnic grounds.
Except: Devices (stoves, grills or lanterns) using pressurized gas canisters (isobutene or propane) that include shut-off valves, or within an enclosed vehicle, trailer, or building.
Except: Within an enclosed vehicle, trailer or building.
3. WELDING or operating acetylene or other torch with open flame.
4. Operating or using any INTERNAL COMBUSTION ENGINE (e.g. chainsaw, generator, ATV) without a spark arresting device properly installed, maintained and in effective working order meeting USDA Forest Service or SAE approval.
5. Operating a CHAINSAW without an approved spark arresting device, a chemical pressurized fire extinguisher (8 oz. capacity by weight or larger and kept with the operator) and a round point shovel with an overall length of at least 35 inches readily available for use, or outside of the “Hoot Owl” restricted hours of 5am – 1pm.
6. Using an EXPLOSIVE. This includes but is not limited to fuses or blasting caps, fireworks, rockets, exploding targets, and tracers or incendiary ammunition.
7. Discharging a FIREARM, air rifle, or gas gun
8. Possessing or using a MOTOR VEHICLE OFF ESTABLISHED ROADS, motorized trails or established parking areas, except when parking in an area devoid of vegetation within 10 feet of the vehicle.
Federal, state, and local officers and persons with a valid Forest Service permit or contract may be exempt from these prohibitions.
For more information, please contact the San Juan National Forest at 970-247-4874 or refer to: The San Juan National Forest USDA website.