Colorado Governor Hickenlooper signed an executive order calling for a statewide a ban on open burning and private use of fireworks throughout Colorado due to extremely dry conditions. The ban does not apply to campfires built in permanent fire pits in campgrounds or recreation sites, liquid fueled stoves or charcoal grills. It is currently unclear if this ban will apply to agricultural burns. Professional fireworks shows are still going to be allowed. Hickenlooper said, "We're not telling people not to go outside and enjoy the outdoors. We're going to celebrate the Fourth of July. We want to make sure that everyone understands just how dry it is out there and how high is the risk.”
Dry conditions are not the only factor that is concerning. Beetle kill has left many trees dead and dry. Very few reports are covering this major trigger for fuelling this fire into the raging demon it has become. For more info on the beetle kill issue, click here: http://www.allvoices.com/contributed-new
Unfortunately, weather hindered firefighting efforts Thursday, when winds blew sparks across the Poudre River. This is exactly what watch commander was hoping would not happen. His team was prepared, however, for such an incident to occur. The next couple of days are calling for potential moisture and it is unclear at this time if this weather will help or hurt the efforts to get this fire under control.
Morgan County Sheriff Jim Crone said, "Note that this ban does not include the sale or possession of legal fireworks, however, local municipalities or counties may choose to implement restrictions on the sale of fireworks. Also, the wording does not appear to support the burning of trash in outdoor receptacles. More information will follow as we get any clarifications on the order and a procedure put back into place for approving/permitting agricultural or irrigation purposes. I would state at this point we will not be approving/permitting open fires such as bonfires, etc., that we have done in past periods of fire restrictions, at least until I get some questions answered, clarification."
This fire was caused by a lightning strike on Saturday. Currently this fire has burned over 52,000 acres and has over 1200 people are working to battle the blaze and one death has been reported. Over 100 structures have been damaged at this point and those numbers are expected to rise as the fire spreads. At least 48 of these structures to be homes, but this number may rise as the burn areas are more closely surveyed. The fire is currently 15-20% under control with cost estimates exceeding $7.2 million.
The Fort Morgan Times reports, “The Bureau of Land Management also announced it is banning campfires in undeveloped areas on its lands along the Front Range and parts of the Eastern Plains. Smoking is banned unless within an enclosed vehicle or building. The ban applies to BLM land in Boulder, Chaffee, Custer, El Paso, Fremont, Gilpin, Huerfano, Jefferson, Lake, Larimer, Las Animas, Lincoln, Logan, Morgan, Park, Pueblo, Sedgwick, Teller, Washington, Weld and Yuma counties. The town of Breckenridge said Thursday it plans to cancel its July 4 fireworks.”