Monday, April 30, 2018

San Juan National Forest - Stage 1 Fire Restrictions on San Juan National Forest Effective May 1, 2018


Stage 1 Fire Restrictions on San Juan National Forest Effective May 1, as a National Wildland Fire Prevention Education Team comes to Durango

Release Date: Apr 27, 2018  
Beginning May 1, 2018, Stage 1 Fire Restrictions will be in effect on all National Forest System lands within the San Juan National Forest, including Wilderness, as well as on most other jurisdictions in the area.
San Juan National Forest has brought in a National Wildfire Prevention Education Team to help raise awareness of the wildfire dangers during this wildfire season.  Southwest Colorado is currently experiencing exceptional drought conditions. The area only received 40 percent of the normal snowpack and is experiencing multiple fires daily since April 1. Current predictions indicate that these conditions will extend or worsen throughout the summer.  Wildland fire agencies across Colorado have been reinforcing prevention efforts for their respective agencies.  “By bringing a National Wildfire Prevention Education Team to Durango, we will be able to unify these efforts across Southwest Colorado,” said Richard Bustamante, San Juan NF Fire Management Officer.
Stage 1 Fire Restrictions on the San Juan National Forest means that the following are PROHIBITED:
  1. FIRES, CAMPFIRES, OR STOVE FIRES, including, but not limited to, CHARCOAL GRILLS, hibachis, and coal or wood-burning stoves.
Exceptions allowed: 
  • Campfires in Forest Service-provided, manufactured fire grates and grills within Forest Service developed campgrounds and picnic grounds.
  • Petroleum fueled stoves or lanterns that use gas, jellied petroleum, or pressurized liquid fuel.
  • Fully enclosed (sheepherder type) stove with a ¼” spark arrester type screen.
  1. SMOKING, except within an enclosed vehicle or building, or in a developed recreation site, or while stopped in an area at least 3 (three) feet in diameter that is barren or cleared of all flammable materials.
  2. CHAINSAWS without a USDA Forest Service or SAE approved spark arrester. Operators must be in possession of a chemical pressurized fire extinguisher with a minimum rating of 2A and a round-pointed shovel with an overall length of at least 35 inches.
  3. WELDING or operating acetylene or other torch with open flame, except in cleared areas of at least 10 feet in diameter and in possession of a chemical pressurized fire extinguisher with a minimum rating of 2A. 
  4. EXPLOSIVES, including fireworks, tracer bullets, and exploding targets.
The U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Indian Affairs, the National Park Service and the Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control are all involved in this proactive fire prevention campaign. Specifics of what is prohibited or allowed under Stage 1 restrictions vary slightly depending on jurisdiction, so persons should confirm information from the appropriate agency.
For more Forest Service fire restriction information, please contact the San Juan National Forest at 970-247-4874, or visit

USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer, and lender.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

USDA: Fire Officials Warn Fire Danger is High This Dry Winter

San Juan National Forest
15 Burnett Ct.
imagesCAU8LEAJDurango, CO 81301
(970) 247-4874
Forest Service Twitter@SanJuanNF
News Release 
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  Fire Officials Warn Fire Danger is High This Dry Winter
DURANGO, Colorado – December 13, 2017 –  San Juan National Forest fire officials are warning that continued dry conditions in Southwestern Colorado mean that fire danger is a concern. In late November, a man target shooting with incendiary ammunition on private property adjacent to National Forest lands started a fire north of Durango that quickly grew to 60 acres near Electra Lake north of Durango. Fuel moistures are even drier now as we approach the end of December. 
“Although it’s winter, we are extremely dry, and there is potential for fire activity because of our prolonged lack of moisture,” said Richard Bustamante, San Juan National Forest Fire Management Officer.  “Dry grasses are very flammable right now and can act as a carrier fuel to quickly spread a fire even though days are short and nights are cold.”
The public is asked to follow these fire safety tips:
·  If you must have an open fire outside, clear a wide area around it of all burnable material and keep
   a bucket of water, shovel, and other implements on hand.
·  Never leave a fire unattended. Stir water and dirt into the coals until coals are cool to the touch and
   there is no smoke. Do not dump hot coals onto vegetation or flammable surfaces.
·  Never toss cigarette butts out the car window. Extinguish smoking materials only in cleared areas
   free of vegetation or debris.  Don’t park hot cars or recreational vehicles over dry vegetation.
   Exhaust systems can ignite flammable materials below.
·  Off-road vehicles and chainsaws should be equipped with approved and recently updated spark
·  Fireworks, including sparklers, are illegal on National Forest lands.
·  Use of tracer bullets and exploding targets is illegal on National Forest System lands.
USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer, and lender.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Carbon Monoxide Detectors, Smoke Alarms, Winter Heating & Fire Safety

As the temperatures drop and the smell of wood burning chimneys and stoves fill the air it is prime time to have your chimney cleaned and inspected to remove creosote buildup.  Creosote is a category of carbonaceous chemicals formed by the distillation of various tars and by pyrolysis of plant-derived material, such as wood or fossil fuel – simply it is the black stuff that accumulates when incomplete combustion (burning) occurs and it “sticks” to cooler surfaces like the inside of your chimney.  This is why double- and triple-walled stovepipe is preferred over single-walled. On multiple walled stovepipe the inside wall is actually able to stay at a higher temperature and the unburned fuels (creosote) going up your chimney tend to not “stick” as much and exit through the top.

Since creosote is basically unburned fuel and it collects on all stovepipe (single-, double-, and triple-walled) over time it needs to be cleaned or “swept” on a regular basis.  We suggest sweeping before you start to burn in the Fall and once again halfway through Winter (middle to late January depending on how much you burn).  If you are hiring a company to sweep your chimney, it is a good idea to have them inspect your system – providing you with “peace of mind” concerning materials, construction and clearances.

Whether you clean it yourself or have someone else do it, the investment in a good cleaning is well worth it in peace of mind alone.

This is also a good time of year to check if you have CO (carbon monoxide) detectors and smoke alarms properly installed and operational.  Both of these are relatively inexpensive insurance policies for your life and property.  The following is an excerpt from Colorado House Bill 09-1091 concerning CO detectors:
• This law requires homeowners and owners of rental property to install carbon monoxide alarms near the bedrooms (or other room lawfully used for sleeping purposes) in every home that is heated with fossil fuel, has a fuel-fired appliance, has a fireplace, or has an attached garage.

• This requirement applies to every home that is sold, remodeled, repaired, or leased to a new tenant after July 1, 2009.

• This law also protects a property owner, an authorized agent of a property owner, or anyone who installs a carbon monoxide detector from any potential future liability (or damages) resulting from the operation, maintenance, or effectiveness of the detector, so long as the detector was installed according to the manufacturer’s instructions and in accordance with this law.

• This law also protects persons holding real estate licenses pursuant to Article 61 of Title 12, C.R.S from any damages, claimed by a purchaser, and related to the operation, maintenance, or effectiveness of a carbon monoxide alarm if such licensed person complies with the rules set forth in this law.

From Section R313 of the 2003 International Residential Code (which is the adopted code in La Plata County) concerning smoke alarms:

[F] R313.1 Smoke alarms. Smoke alarms shall be installed in the following locations:
1. In each sleeping room.
2. Outside each separate sleeping area in the immediate vicinity of the bedrooms.
3. On each additional story of the dwelling, including basements but not including crawl spaces and uninhabitable attics. In dwellings or dwelling units with split levels and without an intervening door between the adjacent levels, a smoke alarm installed on the upper level shall suffice for the adjacent lower level provided that the lower level is less than one full story below the upper level.

When more than one smoke alarm is required to be installed within an individual dwelling unit the alarm devices shall be interconnected in such a manner that the actuation of one alarm will activate all of the alarms in the individual unit. The alarm shall be clearly audible in all bedrooms over background noise levels with all intervening doors closed.

All smoke alarms shall be listed and installed in accordance with the provisions of this code and the household fire-warning equipment provisions of NFPA 72.

Please follow all manufacturer specifications for correct model and installation of heating appliances for your specific application.

Ashes & coals – these will both continue to ‘burn’ up to 72 hours after taking them out of your stove.  PLEASE make sure you are transferring ash to a heavy duty metal (not plastic) bucket for the first cooling and then to a second bucket which you can douse with water (watch for steam) and cool completely.  Do not place the ash bucket on a combustible surface such as wood.  This seems like common sense, but how many times do we throw out common sense for speed and shortcuts?  Please, take the time needed to safely dispose of hot ashes.

Lastly, space heaters get used a lot on these cold days.  Space heater concerns are how close it is to flammable materials (curtains, wall hangings, books/papers) and how accessible it is to small children and pets.

Here are some quick things to remember as we move into this Winter heating season:

Heating equipment is involved in 1 in every 6 reported home fires and 1 in every 5 home fire deaths.

Keep anything that can burn at least 3 feet from any heat source like fireplaces, wood stoves, radiators, or space heaters.

Keep portable generators outside, away from windows, and as far away as possible from your house.  Install and test carbon monoxide alarms at least once a month.

Have a qualified professional clean and inspect your chimney and vents every year. Store cooled ashes in a tightly covered metal container, and keep it outside at least 10 from your home and any nearby buildings.

Plug only1 heat-producing appliance (such as a space heater) into an electrical outlet at a time.


Friday, September 8, 2017

San Juan National Forest - Firefighters are MONITORING the ¼-acre 990 Fire

San Juan National Forest15 Burnett Ct.
imagesCAU8LEAJDurango, CO 81301
(970) 247-4874

Forest Service Twitter@SanJuanNF

News Release 

CORRECTION: Firefighters are MONITORING the ¼-acre 990 Fire, 3 miles southwest of Henderson Lake in the Bear Creek drainage on Missionary Ridge. Smoke is visible from Rockwood and the Glacier Club.  

USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer, and lender.

For more information, visit the Forest Website at: , or follow us at:

Forest Service Shield
Ann Bond
Public Affairs Specialist
Forest Service 
San Juan National Forest
p: 970-385-1219
c: 970-799-1210
15 Burnett Court
Durango, CO 81301 
USDA LogoForest Service TwitterUSDA Facebook
Caring for the land and serving people

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

San Juan Basin Public Health - Prevent Animal-borne (Zoonotic) Disease

As summer progresses, San Juan Basin Public Health (SJBPH) reminds community members that the risk of contracting certain animal-borne diseases increases. Zoonotic diseases are more common during warm weather months when humans and animals are frequently in close contact. 

Since the start of the year, the state has reported three hantavirus case in La Plata, Jefferson and Garfield counties, four tularemia cases in Adams, Fremont, Larimer, and Weld counties, and one case of West Nile virus in Jefferson County.

SJBPH stresses the importance of controlling the presence of rodents and mosquitoes around homes as well as wearing insect repellant and appropriate clothing when heading outdoors. Additionally, keep your pets up to date on vaccinations, and protect your pets from fleas and ticks. Do not  handle or feed wild animals, especially those that appear sick, and do not touch dead animals or animal waste. Remember to speak to your children about these precautions. 

Rabies is an infectious viral disease that affects the nervous system of humans and other mammals. People contract rabies from the bite of a rabies-infected animal (rabid animal). If you have had a bat in your room while you were sleeping, it is important that the bat is trapped and tested for rabies. Please call SJBPH for further guidance or to report an encounter with a suspect animal.

Plague is caused by bacteria that can be transmitted to humans by the bites of infected fleas or by direct contact with infected animals. Plague is frequently detected in rock squirrels, prairie dogs, wood rats, and other species of ground squirrels and chipmunks. SJBPH investigates prairie dog population die-offs for the presence of plague. Community members can report a suspected die-off to SJBPH.

West Nile Virus
West Nile virus is carried by mosquitoes and can be passed on to humans through mosquito bites. This disease can cause encephalitis or inflammation of the brain, lining of the brain, and spinal cord. Remember to use insect repellent when going outdoors. Also, help reduce the number of mosquitos around your home by emptying standing water from flowerpots, gutters, buckets, pet water dishes, discarded tires, and birdbaths on a regular basis.

Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS) is a severe, sometimes fatal, respiratory disease. Hantavirus is carried by wild rodents, particularly deer mice, and is present in their droppings, urine, and saliva. Dried droppings or urine can be stirred up in dust and humans may contract hantavirus by breathing in the contaminated air. Before cleaning up droppings, be sure to wear a mask, ventilate the room by opening windows and doors, and spray down all droppings with a bleach solution before vacuuming or sweeping.

Tularemia is found in the rodent rabbit populations and is transmitted by insect bites, direct transmission, or inhalation and/or ingestion of the bacteria. The infective dose is very small and can persist for long periods of time in water, soil, and carcasses. 
When mowing or landscaping:
  • Don’t mow over sick or dead animals. When possible, check the area for carcasses prior to mowing.
  • Use of masks during mowing and other landscaping activities may reduce your risk of inhaling the bacteria, but this has not been confirmed.
If you hunt, trap or skin animals:
  • Use gloves when handling animals, especially rabbits, muskrats, prairie dogs, and other rodents.
  • Cook game meat thoroughly before eating.

Tick Borne Diseases
Colorado tick fever is the most common tick-borne disease in Colorado, though most cases go unreported. It's a viral illness characterized by fever, headache, body aches, nausea, abdominal pain and lethargy. Complete recovery may take two to three weeks. The disease is not life-threatening and infection results in lifelong immunity. There's currently no preventative vaccine or effective treatment except to let the disease run its course.

Rocky Mountain spotted fever is a serious disease that's transmitted by infected Rocky Mountain wood ticks. Symptoms include sudden onset of high fever, headache, chills, and muscle aches. A rash often appears a few days later. Prompt medical attention is extremely important because Rocky Mountain spotted fever can be fatal if treatment is delayed. The illness can be cured with antibiotics.

To learn more about the symptoms, treatments, and other information for these diseases, visit Information is also available from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment at or Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Smoke & Hot Spots after a Fire

Durango Fire would like to ask that community members use discretion when calling 911 for smoke and/or fire within the Lightner Creek Fire area.

It is normal for there to be hot spots, glowing spots, fire, and/or smoke within the 'black' area (within the containment lines) of a contained wildland fire. This is why containment is defined by percentage of perimeter surrounding the fire and not the percentage of area extinguished (within the containment lines).

From a preventative standpoint, It is actually better to let these areas burn to reduce the fuel load in case of a future fire in that area.  

If you are in, or near, the CR207/CR208 area you will probably be seeing more smoke and hot spots for days to come.  If you are feeling uncertain or unsafe, please call 911.  If this activity is within the containment lines, we ask that you don't call 911.  Durango Fire crews and the Type III Incident Management Team are monitoring the area for your, and the community's protection.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Lightner Creek Fire Update July 3, 2017 - 8:15 a.m.

Lightner Creek Fire Update 
July 3, 2017 - 8:00 a.m. 

Rocky Mountain Incident Management Team Black 
Shane Greer, Incident Commander 

Information Center: (970) 335-8084 
Hours of Operation: 7 a.m. - 9 p.m. 

This will be the final update for the Lightner Creek Fire from Rocky Mountain Team Black 

Current Situation: The Lightner Creek Fire is now 95 percent contained due to the continued hard work of the firefighters. The current fire size is 412 acres, however this increase from what was previously reported is due to more accurate mapping, and not an increase in perimeter growth. 
On Sunday, all remaining residents that had been evacuated were allowed to return home. The roads will remain closed to the public, and only residents with Rapid Tag cards issued from the La Plata County Sheriff’s Office will be allowed in the area. Residents can expect to continue to see firefighting resources in their community. 

On Monday, firefighters will patrol the fire’s perimeter and perform any suppression repair that is necessary. Smoke may continue to be visible at times, but is well within the controlled edge of the containment line. Excess resources will continue to be released from the fire as they complete their work. 

With the fire nearly at full containment, Rocky Mountain Team Black will transition management of the fire back to the Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control and the Bureau of Land Management on Tuesday morning. A type 3 incident management organization – consisting of an incident commander, one engine, and one helicopter - will continue to patrol the fire as necessary. 

Weather: The forecast calls for gusty west, northwest winds with a slight chance of thunderstorms in the afternoon. Winds are expected to be 10 to 15 mph with gusts to 20 mph. Relative humidity is expected to increase slowly through the week. 

Safety: Despite the success in containing the Lightner Creek Fire, the potential for another wildfire remains high due to dry vegetation, high temperatures, and low relative humidity. Fire officials urge homeowners living in the wildland urban interface to create defensible space around their home. Visit for more information about becoming a fire adapted community. 

Closures: All recreation trails in the “Test Tracks” west of downtown Durango remain closed; including Hogsback, Leyden and Hidden Valley trails. The Bureau of Land Management and Colorado Parks and Wildlife have closures in place on public lands east of County Road 208. U.S. Forest Service trails in the Dry Fork area leaving the Colorado Trail into the above referenced closure are marked with signs indicating the fire closures in the Perins Peak area. 

Fire Restrictions: Several Fire Restrictions are in place in the area. Please visit for a complete listing of fire restrictions in Colorado. 

Lightner Creek Fire 
Start Date: June 28 
Location: 4.25 miles WNW of Durango 
Size: 412 acres 
Percent Contained: 95 
Twitter: #lightnercreekfire 
Cause: Structure; spread to wildland