Fire ban in effect in Big Horn County, Bighorn Forest

Big Horn County issued a partial fire ban last Thursday until further notice.

County Fire Warden Brent Godfrey said the commissioners agreed to the partial ban and Chairman Jerry Ewen signed a resolution outlining the restrictions last week.

The fire ban is authorized through state statute when, according to the resolution, “fire danger in the county is extreme because of drought, the presence of any excessive amount of flammable material or for any other sufficient reason.”

The partial ban is for all state and private land within Big Horn County.

Under the ban, discharge of fireworks and all outdoor fires are prohibited in unimproved areas, defined as cropland, agricultural land and undeveloped land which predominately remains in its natural forested or range condition.

Exceptions to the ban are:

•Trash or refuse burned between the hours of 6 p.m. and 8 a.m. inside containers equipped with spark arresters and are located within a cleared area that has at least 10-foot radius, and comply with all other laws and requirements.

•Camp fires contained with an established fire ring at an established campground provided the fire is in compliance with BLM, Forest Service and National Park Service regulations in effect at the time.

•Charcoal fires within enclosed grills.

•Use of acetylene cutting torches or electric arc welder provided the torches or welders are used within cleared area with at least a 10-foot radius.

•Propane or open fire branding activities provided the branding activities are conducted within a cleared area with at least a 10-foot radius.

•Use of chain saw provided the chain saw has spark arresters properly installed and functioning.

•Federal, state or local fire or law enforcement officers participating in fire, emergency, and law enforcement activities.

•Fireworks discharged on private land only between the hours of 8 p.m. and 12 a.m. through July 3, and from 8 a.m. until 11:59 p.m. July 4. Fireworks, as always, are prohibited on county land, state land and other public lands.

Violation of the fire ban could result in a fine of up to $100 and/or imprisonment of up to 30 days in jail.

Fireworks are allowed in Lovell on July 4 only from 8 a.m. to midnight.

Forest restrictions

Stage I fire restrictions went into effect on the Bighorn National Forest at midnight Sunday, July 1.

Low snowpack and an unseasonably warm and dry spring have prompted the restrictions. “The three main reasons I decided to put the order in place are the dry fuel conditions, the excessive number of unattended camp fires on the forest, and the depleted fire fighter resources,” said Forest Supervisor Bill Bass.

The following prohibitions are in effect until further notice:

•Building, maintaining, attending or using a fire, campfire, charcoal broiler, grill, or barbecue, or a coal or wood stove without a permit, except within agency approved fire grates at Forest Service designated developed campgrounds, picnic grounds, or in an area posted by a Forest Officer allowing fires. Liquefied and bottle gas stoves, lanterns, or heating devices, or a fully enclosed (sheepherder or large tent-type) stove with a ¼ inch spark arrester type screen may be used, provided such devices meet the fire underwriters specifications for safety

•Operating a chainsaw without a USDA or SAE approved spark arrester properly installed and in effective working order, a chemical pressurized fire extinguisher with a minimum rating of 2A, and one round point shovel with an overall length of at least 36 inches.

•Smoking, except in an enclosed vehicle or building, a developed recreation site, or while stopped in an area at least three feet in diameter that is barren or cleared of all flammable materials.

•Welding, or operating acetylene or other torch with open flame or arc; except within an area that is barren or cleared of all flammable material at least 10 feet on all sides from the equipment, and with an 8 ounce chemical pressurized fire extinguisher.

Violation of these regulations is punishable as a class B misdemeanor by a fine of not more than $5,000 for an individual or $10,000 for an organization, or imprisonment of not more than 6 months, or both. Anyone negligently or willfully starting a wildland fire could also be held responsible for the costs of that fire.

As people plan Fourth of July celebrations, the Forest Service reminds everyone that fireworks are illegal on federal lands. Anyone discharging fireworks can be fined up to $5,000 and spend up to six months in jail.

For more information, contact Bighorn National Forest offices in Sheridan, Lovell, or Buffalo, or visit the Bighorn’s website at