The city of Durango issued smoking and fire restrictions Thursday in the face of extreme fire conditions.
The order, which has no end date, aims to decrease the risk of fire and help ensure emergency responders are available, especially during the coronavirus public health crisis, said Amber Blake, interim city manager. Drought and dead fuels are major concerns.
The order prohibits all fires of any kind, or the burning of any material of any kind, on public or private property within city limits. People can still use outdoor charcoal, wood-fired or propane grills, ovens, and smokers on private property.
The order also places limitations on all smoking. People within city limits cannot smoke in or on city-owned, -operated or -managed property. That includes sidewalks, parks, recreation areas, open space, natural lands, reservoirs, the Animas River corridor, access points and all trails within the city.
The restrictions apply to smoking tobacco products or other combustible substances via lighted cigar, cigarette, water pipe or electronic cigarette. The order does not apply to smoke produced during recognized Native American ceremonies or activities. People can still smoke in designated smoking areas.
Dead fuels are at critical and near-historic levels, and Durango is in the wildland-urban interface, where urban areas encroach on fire-prone wildland, Blake said during a City Council meeting Tuesday. The southern half of La Plata County, including Durango, also meets high or highest risk for wildfire conditions.
Public lands around Durango are experiencing “unprecedented use” by recreationists, and Forest Service crews are finding a high number of abandoned campfires.
The move follows La Plata County, which issued Stage 1 fire restrictions May 12. Fire partners are looking forward to State 2 fire restrictions because of drought conditions in the county, Blake said.