EL PASO COUNTY — The El Paso County Sheriff's Office announced Monday morning it is raising fire restrictions from Stage I to Stage II that will be in effect starting at noon.
The sheriff's office said this elevated status came after a meeting with the Colorado Springs Fire Department, Colorado Springs Utilities, Pikes Peak Fire Chiefs, Division of Fire Prevention and Control, and the North East Teller County Fire Protection District.
Fountain and Pueblo also announced Stage II Fire Restrictions Monday.
This change impacts "campfire and smoking activities" over restrictions that have been placed under Stage I.
"Right now, Colorado is stretched pretty thin. We have a lot of fires going on," CSFD Chief Ted Collas said. He said current dry conditions are similar to the conditions seen before the Waldo Canyon Fire.
Stage II Restrictions mean the following are prohibited:
- Open burning defined as campfires and warming fires, charcoal grills and outdoor wood-burning stoves, the use of explosives, outdoor welding, or use of acetylene or other torches with open flames other than in an area cleared of all flammable materials. Fires contained within liquid-fueled or gas-fueled stoves are permitted
- The use or sale of fireworks of all kinds
- Outdoor smoking except within an enclosed vehicle or building
Collas said officials will continue to monitor conditions to determine when the ban could be lifted.
Violations of these restrictions may result in a fine up to $1,000. The sheriff's office said, "due to current and future forecast conditions, they determined these measures are necessary to heighten fire hazard awareness, reduce fire risks, and protect health and safety." El Paso County has been under Stage I fire restrictions since the end of March.
The City of Colorado Springs is also reinforcing these bans and said violations of these restrictions could include punishments up to a $2,500 fine.
There are currently four major wildfires burning in Colorado with a new one that sparked Sunday afternoon northwest of Lake George in Park County.
To read the current burn ban guidelines, click here.