Commissioners downgrade fire restrictions from Stage 3 to Stage 2

La Plata County Board of County Commissioners on Wednesday unanimously approved a resolution downgrading from Stage III to Stage II fire restrictions for the unincorporated area of La Plata County and all lands owned by La Plata County, excluding those private lands in the towns of Bayfield and Ignacio, the city of Durango or any federal or tribal lands. The resolution is effective immediately.

The fire chiefs and the Sheriff, acting as the fire marshal, have considered the fire restriction criteria when making recommendations as to whether the fire restrictions should be downgraded from Stage III. These criteria include:

  1. Measured thousand- hour fuel moisture content is 12% or less.
  2. Seasonal energy release component is above the 80th percentile.
  3. Three-day mean burning index is above the 80th percentile.
  4. Ignition component is 80 percent or above.
  5. Fire danger rating adjective class is VERY HIGH or EXTREME.
  6. Fire occurrence is impacting available suppression resources making adequate initial attack difficult.
  7. Local area preparedness level is 3 or above.
  8. Local area is receiving a high occurrence of fires and human-caused risk is expected to increase.
  9. Adverse fire weather conditions and risks are predicted to continue.
  10. Implementation of existing fire restrictions is not adequately reducing human-caused fires.

The guidelines for downgrading from Stage III to Stage II requires a reduction to six or fewer of the above conditions that will apply for a period of seven days with a predicted trend toward continued improvement. The guideline for reducing from a Stage II to Stage I is a reduction to four or fewer of the above conditions. The only one of the 10 criteria that remains in place is measured thousand hour fuel moisture content, which is currently at nine percent.

Under these and all fire restrictions, the fire chiefs in La Plata County, as well as the La Plata County Sheriff have authority to make exceptions to prohibitions if they deem such actions to be safe, appropriate and prudent in their professional opinions.

The Board of County Commissioners will consider downgrading to Stage I fire restrictions at a special business meeting at 6 p.m., Wednesday, July 18, in the County Administration Board Room, 1101 E. 2nd Ave., Durango.

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