BOULDER COUNTY, Colo. -- If you're thinking about heading up to the High Country over the Labor Day weekend, beware of fire restrictions that are in place for several communities.
Last summer brought nearly constant restrictions and fire bans — some starting in June and lasting through most of the summer. This year hasn't been nearly as bad in terms of fire danger, but fire officials don't want people to let their guard down.
"We need to use a little more caution. We want you to have fun but we’ve got some guidelines for having fun," said Seth McKinney, the Fire Management Officer for the Boulder County Sheriff's Office.
Stage 1 fire restrictions are currently in place for Boulder County, meaning campfires are only permitted at enclosed fire pits and open burning is banned.
You can see a complete list of up-to-date fire restrictions on Colorado's Division of Fire Control and Prevention website. It's best to check with the county you're heading to if you have any questions. If any restrictions or bans are in place, signs will likely be posted near campgrounds.
Summit, Gilpin, and Clear Creek counties all have Stage 1 restrictions in place. A burn ban is in effect for Park County.
The restrictions don't have to ruin your weekend plans, McKinney explains you can still have a campfire in Boulder County as long as it's in fire pits on private land or in designated U.S. Forest Service maintained campgrounds. He said his crews put out a fire on Aug. 25 that was caused by an illegal campfire that was left unattended.
"We’re looking at a dry fall right now and the weather conditions — we don’t see any significant moisture on the horizon. Of course it’s Colorado, so that can change in about 10 minutes," MicKinney said. "But yeah we want to remind people that the fire danger is still there. We’ve had a great summer. We want everybody to finish out that summer without giving the mountain communities and residents being impacted by wildfire."
A list of prohibited activities during Stage 1 fire restrictions is available here.
Rocky Mountain National Park is also warning visitors about high fire danger. A spokesperson said that danger has increased rapidly as dry and windy conditions move in. They want to remind visitors that campfires are prohibited in the park, except for designated campfire rings in campgrounds and some picnic areas.
Park staff report a growing number of illegal campfires, some of which became wildfires before being extinguished. They say illegal fires are often connected with illegal camping and want to remind people that a permit is required to camp in Rocky Mountain National Park.