Basalt wildfire narrowly misses homes
August 4, 2009
BASALT – More than 50 area firefighters scrambled to battle a wildfire on Basalt Mountain Tuesday afternoon, stopping the blaze within 10 feet of one home.
There were no injuries and no structures were damaged in the fire, though it prompted a quick call for the evacuation of several streets in Basalt, including Midland Avenue, its main downtown thoroughfare.
“We started an evacuation process that turned out not being needed,” said Jerry Peetz, Basalt deputy fire chief.
Firefighters from Basalt, Carbondale and Aspen, plus a crew of three from the Upper Colorado River Interagency Fire Management Unit responded after a Basalt firefighter spotted the blaze at about 2:20 p.m. from the fire station in town. A flood of 911 calls from the public quickly followed.
The first firefighters were on the scene in about 10 minutes; they found roughly two acres of dry grass and pinon burning, Peetz said.
“The fire was moving directly toward two houses. In fact, the fire wound up coming within 10 feet of one house,” he said.
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“We got lucky,” he added later.
Evacuation orders commenced through reverse-911 calls in the hillside subdivision north of town, on the lower slopes of the mountain, as well as on Midland, but firefighters quickly knocked down the flames, Peetz said.
“By the time they started to do it (the evacuation calls), we canceled it because we had the fire pretty well knocked down,” he said.
An Upper Colorado River Interagency helicopter was used to keep tabs on the blaze from above, but no water was dropped from the air, according to Peetz.
The fire was declared contained at 3:39 p.m. and crews finished extinguishing hot spots at about 5 p.m., he said.
The cause of the blaze remains under investigation, but firefighters have ruled out a lightning strike, Peetz said.