The Bureau of Land Management on Friday lifted Stage 1 fire restrictions on BLM-managed lands in Southwest Colorado, saying that recent precipitation and a forecast for rain have reduced the threat of fire.
“The rainfall improved our fire danger indices, which justifies this decision,” Brandon Lewis, fire management officer for the BLM Southwest District, said in a news release. “However, it is important to recognize the potential for wildfire still exists.”
The Tres Rios Field Office lifted restrictions in BLM lands in Archuleta, Dolores, La Plata, Montezuma, Montrose and San Miguel counties.
The National Weather Service’s forecast for Montezuma and La Plata counties calls for a 20-30 percent chance of showers or thunderstorms through Friday, with high temperatures in the mid-80s and overnight lows around 60.
But is it the start of the monsoon that fire-fatigued residents have been hoping for?
“I wouldn’t bet the ranch on it,” said local weather watcher Jim Andrus, of Cortez.
“This looks like a typical faltering start to a monsoon,” he said. “I’d look for a monsoon when humidity levels reach about 60 percent.”
Other fire restrictions in effectFire restrictions are still in effect in Montezuma, Dolores, La Plata and Archuleta counties, according to the Colorado Division of Homeland Security.
Montezuma and Dolores bans are countywide.La Plata County enacted fire restrictions on open burning south of U.S. Highway 160, effective June 28. The Southern Ute Indian Tribe has made similar restrictions on tribal lands.Archuleta County enacted fire restrictions on all private lands in unincorporated areas of Archuleta County south of U.S. 160 and west of Highway 84 on June 29.Mesa Verde National Park started fire restrictions on July 1.Under a Stage 1 fire restrictions, it is illegal to build, maintain, attend or use a fire. Fireworks and other explosive material are prohibited. Smoking is allowed only in vehicles, buildings and developed recreational areas. A violation of the fire restrictions is punishable by a fine of up to $300 for each violation.
The county fire restrictions will remain in effect until the threat of fire danger has reduced significantly, as determined by the sheriff, local fire chiefs and the county’s director of emergency management. If conditions worsen, heightened fire restrictions may be enacted.
No fire restrictions have been enacted in the San Juan National Forest, though officials urge visitors to use caution.