COLORADO SPRINGS — Pueblo Fire Department just enacted fire restrictions that include a fireworks ban. There are also open fire restrictions across Colorado ordered by state leaders. U.S. Forest Service land in Colorado is under Stage 1 fire restrictions.
While the attention of many has been focused on pandemic and protests, wildfire danger in Colorado has been on the rise. "Heading into June and July, everybody should always be aware this is the time of year the Black Forest and Waldo Canyon fires both happened," said Lt. Jesse Weddle with Colorado Springs Fire Department.
It is not just danger. Fires have started. "A lot of lightning fires which just shows that it is dry. And, we’ve had six campfires this year that have escaped and caused a wildfire,” said Dawn Sanchez with the U.S. Forest Service.
For summer of 2020 there is an added wildfire risk factor. "We're seeing use, in numbers we haven't seen,” said Sanchez. A lot of people are taking advantage of the get outdoor allowance during COVID-19 restrictions. More people using public lands increases the odds of a spark or ash starting a fire.
There is troubling evidence that many are not following fire ban guidelines. "We are in high fire danger and with the restrictions people are just ignoring them,” said Sanchez, “So far since we've been in restrictions, we've had over 100 illegal campfires.”
Along with things that could start a fire, firefighters are concerned about quick access to stop one while it is small. There has been a problem with people illegally parking along roads and access points to open space parks. Cars encroaching onto narrow roads slow and block emergency vehicles. "We are much wider than a car. We need more turning radius. We need the ability to operate around our apparatus as well," said Weddle.
Before using any flame source it is best to check current fire rules where you are or where you are going.