Electrical glitch sparks wildfire
September 23, 2003
The fire that broke out near Elk Wallow Campground above Ruedi Reservoir on Sunday started due to an electrical problem, according to Basalt Fire Chief Scott Thompson.
A power line tripped a breaker and part of the breaker fell into brush and ignited it, Thompson said. The fire was reported at about noon Sunday when an unknown person came to Thomasville looking for a fire extinguisher to douse the wild-land fire.
The Basalt fire department responded and received help from the Aspen and Carbondale departments. About 35 firefighters were on scene.
Thompson said the blaze was tough to battle because it ignited a hillside with a 30 percent slope. Firefighters worked both sides of the fire and “pinched it down” as they climbed, he said.
A witness, Glen Adamson, was headed out for a hike in the area when he came across the blaze and one firetruck. The fire marched up the hillside slowly, moving through brush and making some trees “explode,” he said.
The fire would hit aspen trees and sort of die out before slowly spreading again, according to Adamson.
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The road beyond the fire was closed because it is a dead end. Firefighters didn’t want anyone trapped in case the fire created problems. Elk Wallow Campground is about 30 miles east of Basalt, along the road that leads to the trailhead for the popular Savage Lakes.
Thompson said the blaze was under control by dusk. It burned about two acres. Federal fighters watched the area overnight and were back Monday with one truck and a crew from Basalt to snuff any hot spots.
Thompson said he wasn’t surprised by the fire despite a wet September. As grasses cure and leaves on trees and brush die, conditions get dry, he noted.
[Scott Condon’s e-mail address is email@example.com]