The following is a Press Release regarding the Fire Ban in Otero County: (Also attached is a copy of the County Ordinance for reference)
“June 18, 2018 – La Junta, CO Otero County Sheriff Shawn Mobley is announcing that after meeting with the Fire Chiefs throughout Otero County, Otero County Emergency Manager Danny Chavez, The Otero County Board of County Commissioners, and US Forest Service last week, Otero County will enter a STAGE 2 Fire Ban Effective Immediately.
The lower 2/3 of the State of Colorado is currently under fire restrictions, and the Southeast Region of Colorado is under Stage 2 Fire Restrictions. Otero County is the last to go to restrictions, however based on the extreme level of drought, extreme dry conditions, and serious lack of moisture, the safe and responsible thing to do is to enact these restrictions. It has been 10 years since conditions have been this dire, and a burn ban was put into effect.
Sheriff Mobley states that should the moisture levels change, we would revisit the level of restrictions, and make adjustments or remove the ban if conditions allow.
Per Otero County Ordinance #2008-001 A STAGE 2 Restriction Prohibits the following:
(1) All open burning as defined, other than those exceptions/exemptions as noted below
(2) The sale or use of fireworks pursuant to Section 30-15-401(1)(n.5) Colorado Revised Statutes
(3) Outdoor smoking, except within an enclosed vehicle or building, a developed recreation site or while in an area of at least 3 feet in diameter that is barren or cleared of all flammable materials
(4) Operating or using any internal combustion engine is not permitted on public lands without a spark-arresting device properly installed, maintained and in effective working order meeting either:
(a) Dept. of Agriculture, Forest Service standard 5100-1a
(b) Appropriate (SAE) recommended practice J335(b) and J350(a)
(5) Welding or operating acetylene or other similar torch with open flame unless said work is performed in an area at least 30 feet in diameter that is clear of flammable vegetation and unless the worker has ready access to fire extinguisher or water supply to suppress any fire that results from the welding operation.
Exemptions are as follows:
(1) Commercial or Community Fireworks displays properly permitted
(2) Fires contained within liquid-fueled or gas-fueled stoves
(3) Indoor fireplaces and wood-burning stoves
(4) Burning of irrigation ditches in the designated areas is prohibited by this ordinance EXCEPT for ditches located within and completely surrounded by irrigated farmlands where such burning is necessary for crop survival AND specific written permit has been granted by the Otero County Sheriff or his Designee or the Fire Chief of any Fire Protection District for all areas within the official boundaries or their jurisdiction.
(5) Persons with a permit specifically authorizing the otherwise prohibited act or omission
(6) Any Federal, State, or Local law enforcement officer or member or an organized rescue or firefighting agency in the performance of their official duty
(7) Any further exemptions to either the meaning of terms or the enforcement of this ordinance shall be granted only by the Sheriff or Sheriff’s designee or for exceptions upon or within State or Federal lands located within Otero County by the administering State or Federal agency, and only if the action is deemed by the Otero County Sheriff or the Sheriff’s designee, to se safe and mitigable.
Enforcement: This ordinance shall be enforced by the Sheriff, through his deputies, and/or any peace officer in and for the State of Colorado as described in section 16-2.5-101, C.R.S. and they shall have the authority to order any person to immediately cease any violation of this Ordinance. This authority shall include , but not be limited to, the right to issue a penalty assessment notice and the right to take such person or persons into temporary custody.
Violations: Any person who violates this ordinance from the effective date of June 18, 2018 and including the day prior to suspension or rescission or this Ordinance commits a Class 2 Petty Offense under Section 30-15-402(1) C.R.S. and upon conviction, shall be punished by a fine of not more than $1,000 for each separate offense plus any surcharge required by law under Section 30-15-402(2) C.R.S. as well as any Court Security Fee.
Law Enforcement in the Valley is expected to be less lenient with violations of the Fire Ban and Fireworks violations. Anyone who causes a fire may also be charged with 4th Degree Arson. The recent fire at Highway 10 and County Road 27 in La Junta, in which a number of homes and businesses were evacuated, was a clear example of how dry Otero County is, and with the combination of a great fire response and a bit of luck, avoided any casualties.
Please be responsible with fire this Summer, not just for you and your families, but for your neighbors as well.”