USA — As firefighters battled blazes large and small across the state, at least a half dozen county sheriffs have put a clampdown on outdoor burning in recent days.
Fires have burned thousands of acres, exhausted fire crews and forced evacuations across the state for weeks, as much of the state limps through one of its driest summers on record.
By the end of the week, Adams, Boulder, Douglas, Eagle, Garfield and Pitkin counties will have restrictions in effect. Violating fire bans can net a $500 fine on a first offense.
The lack of rain has parched Colorado, with dry limbs, brush and trees creating a tinderbox, sheriffs said.
The Housetop Fire, near Parachute, photographed Monday evening, July 21, 2008. (Photo: Bureau of Land Management)
“Grasses, which carry fire, are curing out and browning, and have minimal moisture left,” Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle said in a statement. “Several fires have broken out in the last few days in neighboring counties. Many firefighting resources are currently detailed to California for major fires. The forecast continues to call for high temperatures and minimal moisture.”
Fire crews across Colorado have been busy for weeks.
About 225 firefighters contained a south Jefferson County blaze that had been burning since Sunday. Authorities lifted evacuations and road closures in the area as of 6 p.m.
Five engines and two 20-person crews will snuff out any remaining embers and patrol the 140-acre site along the South Platte River, according to the U.S. Forest Service. The cause of the fire is under investigation.
No structures were burned and no injuries were reported, but 15 homes were evacuated, Colorado Highway 67 was closed and other residents were put on standby to flee.
In Mesa County about 100 firefighters reached 50 percent containment on a 150-acre fire on public and private land south of Parachute this afternoon. Lightning is believed to have started the fire Monday night.
Also Monday night a grass fire in Lakewood’s Hayden Green Mountain Park forced the evacuation of 10 homes. Two homeswere scorched by flames. The cause is under investigation.
A grass fire in Weld County burned about 500 acres along Interstate 76 near Keenesburg this afternoon. No homes were threatened, though at one point authorities were preparing an evaucation, according to the Weld County Sheriff’s Office.
Adams. Boulder, Douglas and Pitkin counties imposed fire restrictions Tuesday, joining Eagle and Garfield counties, which announced outdoor limits late last week.