From the pages of
Sublette Examiner
Volume 7, Number 16 - July 12, 2007
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Sublette County bans open fires

by Janet Montgomery

While warm weather often sends many to the outdoors for some fun and recreation, be aware that current conditions in Sublette County have local officials putting a ban on open fires and incendiary devices for an indefinite period.

On July 3, the Sublette County Commissioners jointly signed a resolution for partial closure of Sublette County due to extreme fire danger along with extreme drought conditions as advised by the Sublette County Fire Warden T.J. Hunt.

According to the resolution, “Open burning of fires in Sublette County ... is hereby banned within the entire boundaries of the county.”

The resolution further stipulates prohibited activities such as discharging fireworks and all outdoor fires in unimproved areas.

However, some fire activities are still allowed such as trash or refuse fires between the hours of 6 p.m. and 8 a.m. inside containers that have spark arresters and that are placed in a cleared area 10-feet in radius. Campfires contained within an established fire ring at an established campground are also permitted along with charcoal fires within enclosed grills. Acetylene torches or electric arc welders are only permitted in cleared areas with a 10-foot radius. Likewise, propane or open-fire branding activities in cleared areas with a 10-foot radius are also permitted.

Partial fire bans are also in effect in the Bridger-Teton National Forest (BTNF), Grand Teton National Park (GTNP) as well as Bureau of Land Management lands.

Last Thursday, the Interagency Fire Managers announced that the fire danger rating had been elevated to extreme in both the BTNF and GTNP.

“It is essential that everyone comply with these regulations, especially given the current fire danger rating and tinder-dry conditions,” according a the release from the BTNF. “At campsites throughout the area, dozens of unattended campfires have been extinguished by rangers and firefighters so far this season. Unattended or abandoned campfires can quickly escalate into wildfires, and it is extremely important that all campfires are completely extinguished and cold to the touch before campers leave their site.”

The release also noted that while partial fire restrictions were implemented on July 3, full fire restrictions that include banning campfires may become necessary at a future date due to extreme weather conditions or increased fire activity in the region.

The dry conditions and high fire danger also prompted the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to implement partial fire restrictions in Sublette, Teton, Lincoln and Uinta Counties on July 5.

Under those partial closures the following acts are prohibited:

1. Building, maintaining, attending, or using a fire, campfire, charcoal barbecue or grills except in designated recreation sites on federal lands. The use of portable stoves, lanterns using gas, jellied petroleum, pressurized liquid fuel or fully enclosed (sheepherder type) wood-burning stoves (piped) with a 1/4-inch spark arrester type screen are permitted.

2. Welding, or operating acetylene or other torch with open flame or arc except in cleared areas of at least 10 feet in radius with a chemical pressurized fire extinguisher with a minimum rating of at least 2A.

3. Smoking, except in an enclosed vehicle or building, a developed recreation area site or while stopped in an area at least three feet diameter that is barren or cleared of all flammable materials.

4. Using an explosive requiring fuse-type blasting caps.

5. Operating a chainsaw without a USDA or SAE approved spark arrester properly installed and in effective working order, a chemical pressurized fire extinguisher with a minimum rating of 2A, and one round pointed shovel with an overall length of a least 36 inches.

6. Discharging of fireworks. The BLM also warned that violation of the Fire Prevention Order is punishable by a fine of not more than $100,000, or imprisonment of not more than 12 months, or both. Restitution for total suppression and damage costs incurred will also be borne by the violator.

Violation of the prohibition on the BTNF is punishable by a fine of up to $5,000 for an individual or $10,000 for an organization, and/or by imprisonment for more than six months.

A violation of the Sublette County resolution can result in a fine of no more than $100 or imprisonment of no more than 30 days in the Sublette County Jail, or both.

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