Wildfire Prevention and Fire Restrictions
More than 80 percent of wildfires are caused by humans, so each of us plays a role in preventing a wildfire. It’s important to be aware of and abide by current fire restrictions. And it’s important to understand wildfire prevention strategies related to camping, campfires, driving, outdoor equipment use, smoking, shooting and more.
Summit County Fire Restrictions
Open fires are currently prohibited in Summit County. In January 2020, the Board of County Commissioners and the towns of Blue River, Breckenridge, Dillon, Frisco and Silverthorne approved and adopted a year-round fire code that prohibits non-permitted open fires. Violators are subject to fines of up to $250. The Dillon Ranger District of the White River National Forest is currently in Stage 1 Fire Restrictions. Violators are subject to fines of up to $5,000 and/or six months in jail.
Prohibited Activities and Uses
Stage 1 fire restrictions, and Summit County’s year-round fire code, prohibit building, maintaining, attending or using an open fire. An open fire is defined as any outdoor fire, including but not limited to campfires, warming fires, bonfires or prescribed burns of any material.
The following activities are prohibited under Stage 1 fire restrictions and the fire code:
- Building, maintaining, attending or using an open fire
- Use of fireworks
- Use of tracer ammunition
- Use of any projectile containing explosive material, incendiary material or other flammable chemical substance
- Use of recreational explosives, including explosive targets
- Disposal of any burning object outdoors, including any cigarette, cigar or match.
Allowed Fire Activities and Uses
Fires: Fires are allowed in constructed, permanent fire pits or fire grates within developed recreation sites, such as campgrounds and picnic areas. Fires are allowed on private property if contained within a commercially designed and manufactured outdoor fireplace or portable outdoor fireplace (including chimeneas) that is assembled, located and operated in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. Any such device must also meet the following criteria:
- The resident or property owner has obtained a valid permit from the local fire district.
- The device must be equipped with a protective screen that reduces the spread of embers.
- The area directly underneath the fire is barren.
- The fire is at least 15 feet from any flammable material or structure.
- The size of the fire is no larger than 3 feet wide and 2 feet tall.
- Only nontoxic fuel sources such as wood or charcoal may be burned.
Natural gas and propane-fueled fire tables and fireplaces that have on/off switches do NOT require a permit from the fire district.
Required Safety Measures: Any of the allowed fire uses and activities must be conducted with the following safety measures in place:
- The fire must be constantly attended by a responsible adult.
- The fire must be extinguished and cool to the touch prior to it being left unattended.
- The supervising adult must have available for immediate use a portable 2A10BC fire extinguisher, 5 gallons of water or a charged garden hose.
Grills: Use of gas, propane, charcoal or wood pellet grills are allowed under Stage 1 restrictions.
Pile burns: Wood pile burns are allowed only with all required permits from the local fire protection district and Summit County Environmental Health. Certain restrictions and precautions apply.
Smoking outdoors is allowed under Stage 1 fire restrictions, and Summit County year-round fire code, as long as the individual is at least 3 feet away from any natural vegetation or flammable materials. On U.S. Forest Service lands, smoking is only permitted within an enclosed vehicle or building, a developed recreation site or in a barren area free of vegetation.
- Operation of a chainsaw, trimmer, mower or similar internal-combustion-engine-powered equipment is permitted as long as the operator is equipped with a 2A10BC fire extinguisher available for immediate use, and the engine is equipped with an approved spark-arresting device.
- Welding is permitted when the operator has a valid permit, the device is at least 15 feet away from any natural vegetation or flammable materials and a 2A10BC fire extinguisher is available for immediate use.
Restrictions in Other Counties
For information about fire restrictions in other counties, view statewide fire restriction and fire danger information across Colorado.
Wildfire Prevention Strategies
Summit County, in partnership with local towns and the Dillon Ranger District of the White River National Forest, is using a variety of strategies to prevent wildfire. Join us in our efforts by reviewing the info below and taking appropriate action. Help us stop a wildfire before it starts.
Campfire Safety to Prevent Wildfire
- Check For Restrictions: Find out if local fire restrictions are in place: Stage 1 Fire Restrictions, and Summit County’s year-round fire regulations, allow recreational outdoor fires only in developed campgrounds, inside permanent fire pits or fire grates; or in commercially manufactured fireplaces on private property for which the owner has obtained a valid permit from the local fire district. Outdoor fireplaces must be placed on barren ground 15 feet from any flammable material or structure and have a protective screen to catch embers. Stage 2 Fire Restrictions prohibit campfires altogether.
- Burn Safely: Keep all recreational fires small, and always have a charged hose, 2A10BC fire extinguisher or bucket of water nearby. A responsible adult should monitor the fire until it is completely out. Unattended campfires are one of the most common causes of wildfires.
- Put Out Completely: Drown the fire with water, and stir with a shovel to wet all ash and coals. Feel them with the back of your hand – they should be cool to the touch. Move some dirt onto the fire site and mix thoroughly to create a cool, wet "soup."
Vehicle Safety to Prevent Wildfire
- Maintain Vehicles: Ensure that no parts (e.g., tow chains, exhaust pipes) are dragging. Keep tires properly inflated. Maintain brakes – metal-to-metal contact may throw sparks.
- Steer Clear of Vegetation: Don't park or drive over dry grasses or brush. Hot exhaust pipes and mufflers can start fires you can't see. Be sure ATVs have spark arresters.
- Prepare For Fire: Carry a fire extinguisher in your vehicle and know how to use it.
Smoking Safety to Prevent Wildfire
- Check For Restrictions: Find out if local restrictions are in place. Stage 1 Fire Restrictions, and Summit County’s year-round fire regulations, only allow outdoor smoking in an area at least three feet in diameter free of any flammable material - smoking is not allowed in timber, brush or grass areas. During Stage 2 Fire Restrictions, smoking is prohibited anywhere outside of an enclosed vehicle, trailer or building.
- Extinguish Completely: Extinguish and cool cigarettes completely before discarding. Never throw cigarettes or other smoking materials on the ground or from vehicles. When outdoors, discard cigarettes and ashes in an unburnable can filled with sand.
Shooting Safety to Prevent Wildfire
- Check For Restrictions: As of June 28, 2018, the Summit County Shooting Range is closed until further notice, because of fire danger.
- Clear Flammable Materials: Remove dry grasses and other flammable materials from around your target.
- Use Safe Targets: Don't shoot at steel or rocks; they may throw sparks into nearby vegetation. Use paper targets or clay pigeons.
- Prepare For Fire: Keep a shovel, fire extinguisher and water on hand in case a fire does start.
- In Case of Fire, Call 911 Immediately: If a fire does start, call 911 right away – any delay could be disastrous.
Equipment Safety to Prevent Wildfire
- Check Restrictions and Regulations: Stage 1 and 2 Fire Restrictions, and Summit County’s year-round fire regulations, include restrictions and safety requirements for outdoor use of various types of equipment, including chainsaws, mowers, torches and welding equipment.
- Mowing: Mow before 10 a.m., but never when it’s windy or excessively dry. Lawn mowers are designed to mow lawns, not weeds or dry grass. Metal blades striking rocks can create sparks and start fires.
- Spark Arresters: Spark arresters are required on all portable gasoline-powered equipment. This includes tractors, chainsaws, harvesters, weedeaters and mowers.
- Maintenance: Keep exhaust systems, spark arresters and all equipment in working order and free of carbon buildup.
- Equipment Use:
- Use the recommended grade of fuel, and don’t top it off.
- Keep a shovel and fire extinguisher ready to use.
- In wildland areas, grinding and welding operations require a permit and 10 feet of clearance.
- Don’t drive vehicles onto dry grass or brush. Hot exhaust pipes and mufflers can start fires that you won’t see until it’s too late.
- Keep a cell phone or radio nearby and call 911 immediately in case of fire. Delays can have devastating results.
Debris Burning Safety to Prevent Wildfire
- Permit: In Summit County, a permit is always required to burn slash or forest debris. To obtain a permit, applicants must contact Summit County Environmental Health and their local fire district (Summit Fire & EMS or Red, White & Blue Fire). Fire restrictions that limit debris burning may be in effect.
- How: Don't burn unless weather conditions (especially wind) are such that burning can be considered safe. Keep a water supply and shovel close to the burning site. A responsible adult is required by law to be in attendance until the fire is completely out. Landscape debris piles must be in small 4-feet-by-4-feet piles. Clear all flammable material and vegetation within 10 feet of the outer edge of the pile.
- What: Do not burn garbage or household trash outdoors at residences. Dry, natural vegetation grown on the property may be burned outdoors in open piles, with a permit.
- When: Don't burn if it is windy or if surrounding vegetation is very dry. Obey all local and state laws and restrictions.
- Air Quality: Visit Summit County Environmental Health for guidelines on minimizing air quality impacts from smoke emissions.
Wildfire Prevention Patrol
Summit County has partnered with the U.S. Forest Service to conduct wildfire prevention patrols. A four-person U.S. Forest Service crew is patrolling the Dillon Ranger District of the White River National Forest throughout the summer.
The crew conducts campsite monitoring, visitor contacts and fire-prevention messaging throughout the Dillon Ranger District, which is located entirely within Summit County. Crew members inform visitors about U.S. Forest Service and Summit County regulations that protect natural resources and prevent wildfires. Contact with individuals in undeveloped, dispersed campsites is the top priority. In addition to the USFS crew, personnel from the Summit County Sheriff's Office also conducts fire-prevention patrol work.
The Wildfire Prevention Patrol is a Summit County Strong Future initiative.
- Baby supplies (bottles, formula, diapers, baby food)
- Can opener
- Clothing, hats, sturdy shoes
- Duct tape
- Emergency blanket and/or sleeping bags
- Emergency contact information
- Family contact information
- First aid kit
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- Food: Non-perishable, 3-day supply
- Games and books
- Glasses and contact lenses
- Hand sanitizer
- Items of sentimental value that could not be replaced
- Keys: House, vehicles
- Medical items, devices, records and information
- Medication: 7-day supply; list of medications
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- Personal documents (proof of address, home lease/deed, passports, birth certificates, insurance policies)
- Pet supplies: food, leash, carrier, bowl
- Phone, tablet, laptop and power cords
- Rain gear
- Toiletries and personal hygiene items (toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, deodorant, moisturizer, razor, soap, sun screen, hair brush)
- Water: 3 gallons/person
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