Gov. Polis extended the fire ban issued in August amid an active wildfire season and the continuing strain of COVID-19 on government agencies.
Gov. Jared Polis issued an executive order on September 8 extending a statewide fire ban first issued in August that limits open burning due to the presence of COVID-19.
The order notes that the pandemic is straining state, local, and federal resources, a situation that is being complicated by recent large wildfires in the mountains that have required an interagency response. The governor said his office, along with government agencies, have taken a wide array of actions to mitigate the effects of the pandemic, prevent further spread of the virus and protect against overwhelming health care resources.
"Given the current strain on government resources due to COVID-19, any wildfire response would be diminished, which risks enabling a fire to grow and spread, which in turn requires even more resources for firefighting," the order reads. "Given the State's need to focus on COVID-19 mitigation efforts, it is imperative that the State take every action to reduce the risk of wildfire."
According to the original order, extreme fire danger exists in Colorado due to high temperatures and dry conditions, with about 60 percent of the state in severe or drought conditions. Nearly 800 wildfires had burned 185,000 acres when Gov. Polis issued the August order.
At least four major fires have been burning in Colorado since late July, including the Pine Gulch Fire near Grand Junction, the Cameron Peak Fire west of Fort Collins, the Grizzly Creek Fire near Glenwood Springs, and the Williams Fork Fire near Hot Sulphur Springs. Authorities say three of the fires were caused by humans. The Cameron Peak Fire is one of the largest in state history.
The ban prohibits open fires, fireworks, explosives, smoking except indoors, operating a chainsaw without spark arrestor, welding with open flame except in cleared areas, the use of tracer ammunition or any ammunition with an incendiary component, and any other activity that poses a significant risk of starting a fire. The order does not restrict liquid- or gas-fueled stoves, fireplaces in buildings, charcoal grills at private residences, permanent firepits, portable stoves and lanterns, and fires connected to prescribed burns.