Basalt firefighters snuff small wildfire above town

Before an afternoon shower arrived, Basalt had a brief wildfire scare Tuesday.

A handful of emergency calls came in around 12:15 p.m. after people saw smoke high up on a hillside east of town under a major power transmission line.

Four firefighters with hand tools hiked about 500 vertical feet in steep terrain to access the fire, according to Roaring Fork Fire Rescue deputy fire chief Pete Bradshaw. Other firefighters accessed the site on all-terrain vehicles using rough roads cut during the installation of the power lines. Their access was through the Meyer Ranch, where a water tank for the town is located.

The first firefighters arrived at 12:50 p.m. — a quick response, considering the terrain challenges, Bradshaw said.

A small patch of grass and sagebrush directly under the power line caught fire. The site was surrounded by pinyon and juniper brush.

“There was plenty of fuel above and below,” Bradshaw said. “The winds were nominal. We probably were one wind gust from a larger event.”

Flames and a smoke column were visible from Basalt and likely brought back memories of the Lake Christine Fire in July 2018, which threatened Basalt. The firefighters were able to snuff the small blaze using tools and water carried on the ATVs. They were visible from Frying Pan Road. The transmission line crosses the road at about mile marker 1.

Bradshaw said the exact cause of the fire was unknown Tuesday afternoon, but it was likely related to the transmission line, given the location.