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Mesa Verde bans open fires throughout park

Fire manager Steve Underwood points out an area where the trees have burned at Mesa Verde National Park. From 2000 to 2003, a series of wildfires ripped through the park, burning about 24,000-acres.

The Journal

Mesa Verde National Park has banned open fires throughout the park, including all the residences, Morefield Campground and the Chapin Mesa picnic area, because of the threat of wildfire.

The restrictions take effect on Saturday, July 1.

Recent hot, dry, and breezy weather has resulted in extremely dry vegetation fuels, the park said.

Pressurized gas stoves and contained charcoal grills, such as Weber or Smoky Joe grills, are permitted at Morefield Campground and the Chapin picnic area, but no open wood-burning fires are allowed in campground fire rings or anywhere else, the park announced Monday in a news release.

Smoking is only permitted inside enclosed vehicles. Fireworks are prohibited in Mesa Verde National Park.

The park said restrictions will remain in effect until the fire danger becomes less severe.

A small wildfire Monday in a remote section of the San Juan National Forest near the Divide Road (564) burned two acres and triggered road and trail closures.

The 412 Fire was reported on June 23 by a hiker, and is believed to be caused by lightning that was documented in the area last week. The low-intensity fire is burning in spruce and fir at 10,100 feet in elevation, near the Ryman and Salt Creek trails, about 5 miles east of the Roaring Fork trailhead in Montezuma County.

The National Weather Service also announced on Monday that a red flag warning was in effect Tuesday and Wednesday in Montezuma and Dolores counties because of gusty winds and low humidity. A red flag warning means wildfires could start easily and grow rapidly, becoming difficult to control.

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