Just in time for Labor Day weekend, Mesa County lifting fire bans.

At midnight Friday morning, all fire restrictions will no longer be in effect. Is that a good idea? Sure, we've gotten some rain recently but it hardly makes a dent in the drought situation. Local agencies are lifting the restrictions but are quick to warn everyone "fire season isn't over yet." If that's the case, then why?

There have been nearly 200 fires this year. 140 were started by lighting. Others started by humans and other means. It's been a tough season, to say the least. A costly one too. The Mesa County staff have logged 2,500 hours battling the fires. The tanker crew based here in Grand Junction sent out 1,300 flights this year. That's a new record. They average around 400 a season.

This year's fire season started early too. The first fires sparked up in April and hasn't let up. It's usually July before restrictions kick in but this year's extremely dry conditions saw the season start much earlier. "We're still in fire season, just because we're lifting restrictions doesn't mean there's not a threat of fires," says Josh Tibbetts, Fire Management Officer.

 

Since that's the case, the Bureau of Land Management is keeping their resources, like helicopters, smokejumper crews and planes in Grand Junction until later this fall.

For those of you heading out camping this weekend, the Grand Mesa and Uncompahgre Forests are lifting all fire restrictions Friday as well. Public lands in Mesa and Garfield counties are also lifting fire restrictions.

Credit: NBC11News