Aspen Fire Chief: Fort Frog fire on Buttermilk Mountain appears accidental, human-caused

Lauren Glendenning
The Aspen Times
A fire engulfed the Fort Frog cabin on Buttermilk Mountain in May 2016
Sandy Schiff/Aspen Volunteer Fire Department |

The team investigating the fire that destroyed the Fort Frog cabin on Buttermilk Mountain on Sunday night think the blaze was probably human-caused, Aspen Volunteer Fire Department Chief Rick Balentine said.

There’s no evidence that suggests the fire was intentional, he said.

“It devastated the cabin,” Balentine said. “It’s hard to say what did start it.”

Balentine said early indications point toward “some sort of accidental human start.”

Crews responded just after 6 p.m. Sunday to the blaze, which scorched the Fort Frog cabin to the ground. Chris Mandrick, law enforcement officer with the U.S. Forest Service, returned to the scene Monday and said the investigation is ongoing and that he wasn’t able to release any details beyond that.

Aspen Skiing Co. spokesman Jeff Hanle released the following statement Monday on behalf of Skico:

“Fort Frog was an important part of the Buttermilk experience for many years and for thousands of kids. We are sad to see it gone, and will explore our options for rebuilding in the future.”

About 1 acre of forest burned in the fire, but it didn’t spread thanks to snow melting from nearby ski runs, Pitkin County Sheriff’s Deputy George Kremer said.

The cabin featured a wooden frontier-style fort with lookout towers, flags, old wagons, a jail, a saloon and a Native American teepee village, according to the Sanctuaries in the Snow blog at

Anyone with any information or leads is asked to contact the Aspen Fire Department at 970-925-5532, the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office at 970-920-5300 or Mandrick with the U.S. Forest Service at 720-990-4346.