Updated: July 8, 2012 at 12:00 am
Colorado's statewide fire ban was lifted Sunday, but strict local bans remain in force in the Pikes Peak region.
Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper said favorable weather allowed him to ease the statewide ban that came June 14 as wildfires raged throughout the high country. Recent rains and forecasts of cooler, wetter summer weather allowed the state move, which has no impact on local bans in place through much of the state.
“Mother Nature is finally giving us some relief,” Hickenlooper said in a statement. “Even though the 2012 wildfire season is far from over and still challenging, we believe conditions are such that local authorities and federal land managers ought to resume control over fire bans in their jurisdictions.”
The change has no impact in the Pikes Peak region. Countywide fire bans remain in place in Teller and El Paso counties while most cities in the region have enacted similar measures, including Colorado Springs. The bans prohibit most outdoor fires and fireworks.
The easing of state restrictions, though, may signal easier times ahead for beleaguered firefighters, who have grappled with the state's most destructive wildfires in history in recent weeks.
The most destructive fire, Waldo Canyon, which burned 346 homes and more than 18,000 acres in and near Colorado Springs, reached 100 percent containment Tuesday.
The massive High Park fire in northern Colorado was fully contained.
"We commend the people of Colorado for complying with the fire ban and the efforts of fire fighters, local law enforcement, federal land managers, Colorado National Guard, United States military and all other first responders for their assistance and collaboration during this wildfire season,” Hickenlooper said. “We will continue to monitor the fire danger across the state and re-enact the state-wide ban if necessary as conditions change."
The Bureau of Land Management also eased fire restrictions this week, reducing them from Stage 2 to Stage 1 in 21 counties including El Paso and Teller.
Under Stage 1 restrictions, campfires, charcoal fires or open fires of any type are not allowed on BLM-managed lands, except in develped areas with manufactured grates and grills. Smoking is only allowed in enclosed vehicles or buildings and spark arresters are required for internatl combustion engines.