Aspen crew douses fire |

Aspen crew douses fire

Aspen Times Staff Report

An unattended campfire that burned out of control just off the road to Independence Pass was doused Wednesday before it got big enough to become a real threat.

And officials are upset that the fire existed at all, given the total ban on fires in the White River National Forest.

The fire was along a dirt road leading from Highway 82 toward Tagert’s Lake, a few miles east of Aspen toward the pass, according to Pitkin County Deputy Sheriff Scott Thompson.

“It had probably sat there for awhile,” Thompson said. He said that the flames had been whipped up by a “micro-burst” of wind on Wednesday and ignited a nearby bale of hay.

“If we hadn’t gotten to it, it could have been a problem,” Thompson said.

Firefighters were originally called to what was thought to be a lightning-caused fire near the Grottos area, which is located higher up the valley than the actual site of the fire. Thompson said a sudden downpour of rain obscured the smoke from the fire at first, but it became apparent as soon as the rain stopped that the fire was not at the Grottos but back toward Aspen.

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The Aspen Fire Department was needed to put the fire out, Thompson said.

Another deputy said two different campfires had been discovered the night before in the Dinkle Lake area, and the campers had to be reminded of the fire ban and ordered to douse the flames.

The fire ban was imposed in response to the dryness of the weather and the growing number of fires around the West. Firefighting forces are stretched to the breaking point throughout the region.

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