Hot, dry weather is forcing fire bans across southern Colorado. Manitou Springs and Colorado Springs are the latest to enact restrictions.
The Manitou Springs Fire Department issued a burn ban that includes bonfires, fire pits, and charcoal grills. Liquid propane grills and camp stoves are allowed, as long as they’re 10 feet from combustible materials. Meanwhile, smoking outdoors is also prohibited, except in "enclosed buildings or structures" and along Manitou Avenue.
The Colorado Springs Fire Department is also enacting restrictions, effective starting at noon on Friday. The ban limits recreational fires (such as campfires) and bonfires, and prohibits outdoor smoking in all city parks and open space. Outdoor grilling, including the use of charcoal and pellet grills, is permitted.
Similar restrictions are already in place elsewhere in the region. Teller County and unincorporated parts of El Paso County are under a Stage II ban, which limits open fires, charcoal grilling, and outdoor smoking. The City of Pueblo and Pueblo County are under slightly milder restrictions, which allow for charcoal grilling and outdoor smoking in areas "free of combustible material."
The bans come as much of southern Colorado faces severe-to-extreme drought conditions, says National Weather Service Meteorologist Paul Wolyn.
"We’ve not had a lot of precipitation during April and May," he explains, "which normally are wetter months for Pueblo- and Colorado Springs-area. As a result the fuels for the fire are dry and very susceptible to burning."
Wolyn says barring any unforeseen weather patterns, high fire danger is likely to persist at least until monsoon season, which typically picks up in July.