From The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Gary Harmon):
Stage I fire restrictions are to go into effect Friday, far earlier than the May 22 restrictions in 2012, according to the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office and fire chiefs of several municipalities and fire-protection districts. That year, an extremely dry winter, coupled with a hot, dry summer, fueled multiple, destructive wildfires across the state, including a blaze that burned nearly 14,000 acres southwest of De Beque.
Authorities said this is the earliest imposition of fire restrictions they could recall.
“One reason we are going in so early with restrictions is that we are seeing severe to extreme drought conditions and the predictions are that it’s going to be a pretty bad fire season,” sheriff’s spokeswoman Megan Terlecky said.
“The conditions we are experiencing are the most dangerous fire conditions we have had in recent memory and the potential for serious wildfire is staggering,” Mesa County Sheriff Matt Lewis said. “We want to ensure everyone has ample opportunity to understand these fire restrictions and adjust their plans accordingly.”
Firefighters in the Grand Valley already have battled the 12-acre Rosevale and 220-acre Skipper Island fires, both of which were started by humans and whipped by gusting winds. The Rosevale fire destroyed a mobile home and several outbuildings and vehicles.
Another reason to move quickly was to put residents and others on early notice that fireworks won’t be allowed this year…
Under the restrictions, campfires are allowed only in designated fire pits or fire rings and smoking is allowed outdoors only in a developed recreation site or in an area at least 6 feet in diameter that is clear of all combustible material.
Open-burn season was closed in the county immediately. Agricultural burns are allowed only with a permit issued by the fire marshal, who is to conduct an on-site inspection to verify precautions have been met, issuing permits on a case-by-case basis.
Open-burning season in the city of Grand Junction already was scheduled to end on Monday.