Montrose County Fire Restrictions Lifted

Montrose, COLO.—Sheriff Gene Lillard is lifting fire restrictions effective Thursday, July 30 at 12:01 a.m. The decision was made alongside partner agencies including federal lands, weather partners, and surrounding counties in order to avoid confusion when recreating in the region. This affects land within unincorporated Montrose County, and now allows residents to burn as necessary. 

The decision was based on fuel moisture measurements in vegetation, predicated weather, and the amount of current fire activity in the county. Residents and visitors are encouraged to use caution when burning.

“Even though fire restrictions have been lifted, I am urging community members to use caution when burning. Please make sure to have water and shovels readily available when burning and always call dispatch at 970-249-9110 before burning. Last but not least, I would like to thank the public for their assistance the past several weeks during restrictions.” said Sheriff Lillard.  

Please know before you go and visit for information on restrictions in surrounding areas and the latest fire-related information. To learn more about campfire safety, please visit

Information Release


Contact: Dr. Thomas M. Canfield, MD, Montrose County Coroner
Office: Montrose County Coroner’s Office of Medical Investigation, (970) 252-4524

Information Release

Early in the morning of Wednesday, July 1, 2020 a call was received by Western Colorado Regional Dispatch stating there were two deaths at a local residence. Montrose Fire Protection District EMS and the Montrose Police Department responded and discovered the two decedents. The decedents were Thomas M. Courser, a 73 year old male and his son Andrew T. Courser, a 34 year old male both of Montrose. Cause and manner of death are pending autopsy results and toxicology analysis. The cases are under investigation by the Montrose Police Department and the Montrose County Coroner’s Office of Medical Investigation.

Thomas M. Canfield MD, Coroner

This concludes this press release in its entirety. No additional information is available at this time.


Montrose County Stage 1 Fire Restrictions Start July 2

Montrose, COLO.—Due to the extremely dry conditions and the additional dry weather that is projected for the area, Sheriff Gene Lillard has recommended Stage 1 Fire Restrictions beginning Thursday, July 2nd. Moisture levels are dropping daily, federal land partners have reported several unattended several campfires, and are already at critical levels in lower elevations with wind, lightning storms, and potential for storms at high elevations. Today, the Board of County Commissioners passed Resolution 31-2020 that authorizes the sheriff, the fire warden for the county, to implement and lift fire restrictions as necessary through the summer months.

“Unfortunately we have reached a point where enacting stage 1 restrictions is necessary to reduce the risk of wildfire,” said Sheriff Gene Lillard. “We have been working closely with our federal land partners and adjoining counties constantly monitoring conditions and watching available resources. We appreciate the public’s assistance in working to mitigate wildfire.”

The restrictions apply to the unincorporated county area and do not include the City of Montrose, Town of Olathe, Town of Naturita, and Town of Nucla. The stage 1 fire restrictions do not allow open burning of any kind to include agricultural burning, open campfires, and fireworks. Smoking cigarettes outdoors is not allowed, unless in an enclosed vehicle or building or in a developed recreation site. Campfires in a pre-approved campground, State Park/KOA, or enclosed fire pits are permitted. As a reminder, fireworks on publicly managed lands are prohibited.

Please be advised that penalties for violating the fire ban include: Class-2 petty offense with fines ranging from $100 to $500 depending on the number of offenses. If a fire causes damage to another individual’s property, additional criminal charges may apply. These fire restrictions will remain in effect until further notice.

Motorcycle/Truck Collision

Montrose, COLO.—During the late morning hours of Wednesday, May 27, 2020, a 59-year-old male from Olathe, Colo., Roger Ayres was killed in a motorcycle/truck collision. The cause and manner of death are pending the results of an autopsy which has been scheduled. The case is currently under investigation by the Olathe Police Department with the assistance of Colorado State Patrol and the Montrose County Coroner’s Office of Medical Investigation.

Thomas M. Canfield MD


Montrose County Public Health Issues Ban on Burning

APRIL 10, 2020
Montrose, CO—Today, Montrose County Public Health released a public health order that temporarily bans burning in the unincorporated areas of the county. The order takes effect Sunday, April 12, at 12:01 a.m. All outdoor burning, other than the non-commercial cooking of food in enclosed devices is banned until April 30. After discussion with Montrose Fire Protection District and Montrose Memorial Hospital, county public health officials determined this was necessary for both medical reasons and concerns for resources needed for response.

“This is the smart thing to do, the safe thing to do, and the right thing to do,” said Montrose Memorial Hospital Emergency Department Medical Director Dr. David Dreitlein, M.D. “Respiratory symptoms can be caused and worsened by the presence of smoke in the atmosphere. These symptoms can include shortness of breath, nasal congestion, sneezing and cough, and sore throat—this can mimic symptoms of COVID-19. Also, the presence of added smoke can cause an asymptomatic carrier to start sneezing and coughing, which promotes viral spread.”

At this time, testing resources are limited to patients who are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 (with a doctor’s order). The presence of increased smoke could have a negative impact on testing resources as well as recovery for positive COVID-19 patients.

“This was not a decision to be taken lightly. We understand that agriculture burning is part of the culture and necessity of access to water in Montrose County,” said Commissioner Keith Caddy. “The water has been in the canals since the beginning of April, and we asked public health to delay this order to give our producers time to continue with spring preparations. We have come to a point where this order is critical to the public health of our community and the Board of County Commissioners is supportive of this action to protect the health and well-being of Montrose County residents during this pandemic.”

The public health order, signed by Public Health Director Jim Austin, cites emergency declarations from the federal, state, and local level to show the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The order permits non-commercial cooking of food in enclosed devices such as metal fire pits and backyard barbecue grills.

“I am supportive of this order,” said Montrose Fire Protection District Chief Tad Rowan. “While there is limited risk of wildfire due to current conditions, the fact of the matter remains that we are in a pandemic; a large response will put an unnecessary burden on fire and medical resources. This order improves the district’s ability to keep resources available for responses to medical emergencies and other emergencies that occur in our jurisdiction.”

This order only applies to land in the unincorporated area of Montrose County and does not include federally managed public lands. Please know before you go as some public land agencies have enacted fire restrictions. Visit for more information regarding fire restrictions. To view the public health order, please visit

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