A red flag warning is in effect from noon to 8 p.m. Wednesday for La Plata and Montezuma counties, where weather conditions are ideal for wildland fires, the National Weather Service said Tuesday.
Gusty, dry and warm weather is expected through Wednesday, with high temperatures near 70 degrees, and overnight lows around 45 degrees. Winds are expected to be 15 to 25 mph, with gusts reaching 35 mph. Humidity is expected to be 9 to 14 percent.
Thursday's forecast in the Pine River Valley is for a high of 62 degrees, then cooling to 44 on Friday.
Sunny weather and less wind is expected Saturday through Monday.
In Montezuma County, controlled burns, fireworks and open fires are banned during a red flag day. Residents in unincorporated Montezuma County are directed by county ordinance to call a dispatcher at 565-8441 the day of the proposed burn and before it is started. A violation of the ordinance is punished by a fine of up to $1,000.
On Monday, Montezuma County commissioners announced a countywide fire ban will take effect April 16, based on a recommendation from Sheriff Steve Nowlin. Beginning April 16, no open fires or use of fireworks will be allowed in unincorporated Montezuma County.
The red flag warning and fire ban come after a brush fire on Saturday forced the evacuation of a family that lives north of the Ute Mountain Casino in Towaoc. The fire spread quickly near U.S. Highway 160 and County Road A and shut down U.S. Highway 160 for more than two hours, from roughly 4 p.m. to 6:45 p.m.