Fire Conditions Worsen; Fire Restrictions Tightened
by Gus Jarvis
Jun 27, 2012 | 3309 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print

– As wildfires rage uncontrollably across the state amidst extremely dry and hot conditions, and with the Fourth of July holiday just around the corner, agencies across the region are upgrading fire restrictions.

On Tuesday in Telluride, the Telluride Town Council passed an emergency ordinance effective immediately that not only imposes a ban on all open fires and fireworks but also restricts outdoor smoking to within the downtown area of Telluride. The emergency ordinance bans the use of charcoal fires and bans smoking of any combustible substance in Bear Creek, Town Park, the River Trail, the Valley Floor, and on Tomboy, Liberty Bell and Bear Creek Roads. The ordinance also states that at least one working fire extinguisher rated 2A10BC or higher must be present at all construction sites in Telluride.

In Montrose, Ouray and San Miguel counties, and on land managed by the Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service, and Colorado State Forest Service, fire restrictions will move to Stage 2 restrictions effective Thursday, June 28. 

According to San Miguel County Sheriff Bill Masters, the upgraded restrictions are in place to reduce the risk of human-caused fires during a period of unusually high fire danger. Extreme winds, warm temperatures and the significant lack of rain have created an extremely hazardous environment. 

And with numerous fires burning across the state, fire-suppression resources are a rare commodity.

In all three local counties, Montrose, Ouray and San Miguel, the following activities are banned.

• All campfires

• Open burning of any kind including the burning of trash or debris, charcoal grills, or outdoor wood grills.

• Fireworks or use of explosives.  (Municipal firework displays have been cancelled in the Town of Telluride and the cities of Ouray and Montrose.) 

• Smoking, except in an enclosed vehicle or building, and disposal of cigarette butts anywhere outdoors.

• Operating a chainsaw, except with a fire extinguisher and a shovel, kept within immediate reach.

• Fires in open pits or outdoor chimneys.

• Use of tracer or incendiary ammunition.

• Welding or use of torch with open flame, except in Ouray County, upon providing notice to the county sheriff.  

• Operating or using any internal combustion engine without a spark arresting device that’s properly installed, maintained and in effective working order.

• Possessing or using a motor vehicle or OHV off established roads (in San Miguel County), except when parking in an area devoid of vegetation within 10 feet of the roadway and except for parking overnight in developed campgrounds and trailheads.

• The use of a propane gas grill or other manufactured liquid fuel cookstove not prohibited as long as it has an “on-off” switch so that fuel can be turned off.” 

Campers and drivers are asked to limit travel to designated roads and trails as much as possible, to avoid igniting sparks on grass and brush.

“If you see one of your neighbors setting off fireworks, get in their face,” Masters said. “That would help us out. That is our number one concern, next to lightning.”

For national updates, visit; for status updates on fires, visit


Telluride, Ouray and Montrose Say It’s Too Dry for Fireworks


The Ouray County Sheriff’s Office, in conjunction with the Ouray Volunteer Fire Department, announced the cancellation of Ouray’s Fourth of July flare parade and municipal fireworks display. 

“This was not a easy decision for any of us, but I think it is the right decision, considering what the rest of the state is going through,” said Ouray County Sheriff Junior Mattivi. 

Earlier this month Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper issued an executive order banning open burning throughout the state of Colorado, due to drought conditions. A Level 2 fire ban prohibits all open fires, campfires, charcoal grills, Tiki torches, and outdoor wood burning stoves, and unlike the Level 1 ban, applies to developed camping and picnic grounds, as well. 

Extreme fire danger has led to the cancellation of municipal fireworks displays in Telluride and Montrose as well. “The reason is because there are very unsafe conditions out there,” said Telluride Fire District Chief Jamey Schuler, following a meeting between the Fire District, San Miguel County Sheriff’s Office and town law enforcement. 

Along with San Miguel and Ouray counties, the Bureau of Land Management, US Forest Service, and Colorado State Forest Service are also imposing upgraded fire restrictions. 


Sign Up to Get Emergency Information


The public must be ready to evacuate when officials give the word. 

To begin preparing, sign up to receive text alerts on your phone or email (visit to sign up), build an emergency kit and make a family communications plan (get info at In addition, if you see something, say something. This applies to not only suspicious activity, but potential wildfires. Any signs of a fire, including brush or woods fires, should be reported immediately by calling 911. Grasses and brush are particularly vulnerable to rapid fire spread. Dispose of smoking materials properly.

For national updates, visit; for status updates on fires, visit

The Ouray County Commissioners strongly encourage residents to sign up for emergency notifications as well. Visit and learn more about the WENS (Wireless Emergency Notification System or the Target Notification System and to sign up. 

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