Fire Dept. Issues Burn Permit On Red Flag Day

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In Southern Colorado, a Red Flag Warning means no fires--because we've all seen how quickly they can get out of control.

Pueblo was under such a warning Monday, so residents were shocked when they saw smoke from a prescribed burn coming from the east.

"My son said they burnt the field, and I said, 'They shouldn't's a Red Flag Day," Sheila Morris told 11 News.

Morris lives right across the field that was on fire Monday. It's owned by Milberger Farms, which obtained a burn permit from the Pueblo Rural Fire District.

"We take all the precautions necessary to keep the fire within the field," Milberger Farms employee Dog Feddeler explained to 11 News. "If it's a field that's thick with overgrown with weeds, then we certainly won't consider doing that on a dangerous day."

But many residents wondered why the farm had to conduct the prescribed burns on Monday at all, with conditions so ripe for a potential fire.

Rural Fire Chief Robert Guagliardo said they do allow farmers to burn on Red Flag Days. Fire crews are sent out to investigate the local conditions. If they seem safe, the farm will be allowed to proceed. Fire crews stay the entire time the land is burning.

On Monday, there were seven firefighters on scene while the farm conducted the burn.

"Then we are in control of the fire and not chasing it as we had done in the past," Guagliardo said.

If landowners don't receive permission to burn on a Red Flag Day and do it anyway, they could be ticketed by the sheriff's office. If they damage any property, they will be liable.

The fire district says irrigation water for landowners arrives mid-March, and the prescribed burns must be done before that. They said residents in and around Pueblo can expect to see more burns in the area in the coming weeks.