La Plata County entered Stage 3 fire restrictions Tuesday, the most stringent category of rules the county has the authority to put in place to reduce the risk of wildfire.
The county, which had Stage 2 restrictions in place, increased the fire restrictions because of the extreme fire danger in Southwest Colorado, which has led to the outbreak of the 416 and Burro fires.
County officials hope the additional restrictions will prevent another fire, which will in turn allow available firefighting resources to be dedicated to the two active fires.
Notably, the county’s Stage 3 fire restrictions prevent the operation of any coal-fired steam engines. That means the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad cannot operate its coal engines, but it can operate its diesel engines.
The Durango train has already suspended all services until at least June 30. County Manager Joanne Spina said Al Harper, owner of the D&SNG, assured her the train will not even run diesel engines until the Stage 3 restrictions are lifted.
Under these tighter restrictions, residents can still use propane grills, but they are prohibited from a number of other activities, including:
Discharging fireworks and pyrotechnics.Launching floating sky lanterns. Discharging firearms or using exploding targets. (Individuals still have the ability to protect themselves, their property and family.)Blasting in development zones, such as in construction areas.Flaring at oil and gas well sites.La Plata County commissioners voted unanimously to approve the Stage 3 restrictions, stressing the fact they are temporary.
“We’re really hoping with the monsoons we can dial that back,” Commissioner Gwen Lachelt said. “But now it’s just paramount we do everything we can to reduce the risk of further fire.”
The San Juan National Forest entered Stage 3 fire restrictions Tuesday and closed all 1.8 million acres.