Jun 28, 2012 10:32 PM by Elaine Sheridan
Due to extremely dry and windy conditions, U.S. Forest Service (USFS) officials are increasing fire restrictions today, Thursday, to Stage II for the Pike and San Isabel National Forests (PSI). The goal is to protect public health and safety due to the current elevated risk of wildfires.
The PSI is in Stage II fire restrictions as of June 28 for all National Forest System (NFS) lands, roads and trails until rescinded. These lands include: Chaffee, Clear Creek, Custer, Douglas, El Paso, Fremont, Huerfano, Jefferson, Lake, Las Animas, Park, Pueblo and Teller Counties in Colorado.
"Protecting people and homes is our main priority and this Order will help. Because fire danger is at an all-time high, preventing additional ignitions is vital," said Forest Supervisor Jerri Marr.
Under Stage II fire restrictions the following acts are prohibited on the PSI:
• No open fire, except when using a petroleum stove, grill, or lantern with a buffer cleared of all vegetation on all sides for at least three feet.
• Smoking, except within an enclosed vehicle or building.
• Possessing or using fireworks or other pyrotechnic device.
• Using an explosive.
• Using any internal or external combustion engine (including chainsaws, ATVs and motorcycles) without a spark arresting device properly working.
• Possessing or using a vehicle off National Forest System Roads, except when parking in areas completely cleared of all vegetation.
• Welding, or operating acetylene or other torch with open flame.
• Commercial operations such as road maintenance and other activities are limited to the cooler parts of the day (10:00pm to 10:00am).
Violation of these regulations is punishable by a fine or imprisonment, or both. A person found responsible for causing a wildfire as a result of violating these restrictions could also be charged for associated fire suppression costs.
"We are being aggressive about reducing the risk of human caused fires. We need visitors to our forests to follow the fire restrictions and prohibitions," added Marr.
Officials advise visitors to know about restrictions and their locations on a map before going out to the woods or grasslands. Motor Vehicle Use Maps are available at all National Forest and Grassland offices at no cost. Some exemptions apply to holders of valid permits, leases and authorizations.
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