PARK COUNTY, Colo. - Park County has become at least the 9th Colorado county to issue fire restrictions because of the recent dry weather and conditions.
The burn ban, which was issued Monday morning, follows several wildfires that ignited over the weekend.
Authorities said a strict ban is necessary because the county has limited firefighting resources and a wide area to cover.
"This is unusual," said Kevin Tobey, park manager at the 11-Mile Campground near Lake George. "Often the conditions differ across the county and here we usually have more snow and ice in March. This year, the conditions are similar throughout the county."
The ban prohibits the following activity on public and private property:
*Open burning, including campfires and charcoal in outdoor grills.
*Smoking except within an enclosed vehicle or building, within a developed recreation site or within at least 3 feet in diameter and an area that is cleared of flammable materials.
*Operating motorized vehicles off designated roads or trails.
*Any activity that generates flames or flammable material.
*Fireworks and model rocketry.
*Explosive targets and metal-jacketed bullets.
*Using chain saws without a fire extinguisher and a shovel readily available.
Tobey explained why propane-fueled fires are allowed.
"The whole rationale on that is you have an on-and-off switch, so you can stop your source with propane, and you typically are going to have a contained flame in an area that's going to make it a little bit easier to use," he said.
Tobey said anyone caught violating the burn ban will receive a court summons and likely a hefty fine.
Tim Florian brought his family to 11-Mile and said the burn ban didn't affect them.
"We brought propane," he said. "We weren't really planning on a fire. We saw the fires up north in Boulder, and we just thought better of doing fires on this trip."
The burn ban has many residents wondering if conditions will result in a repeat of the June 2002 Hayman fire, which started near Lake George and remains the largest wildfire in state history.
Jan Brug has lived in Lake George for 25 years and still has bad memories of the Hayman fire.
"People say Waldo Canyon and Black Forest were bad," she said. "But they didn't go through the Hayman like I did. We're all worried about how dry it is. Every time the wind comes up and there's no moisture, we just shake in our shoes."
Some residents are removing branches, dead trees and other fuels from around their property as added protection from a wildfire.
As of Tuesday, eight other area counties report fire restrictions: Douglas, El Paso, Elbert, Huerfano, Kit Carson, Las Animas, Lincoln and Teller.