Brush fire delays traffic downvalley |

Brush fire delays traffic downvalley

Pete FowlerGlenwood Springs correspondentAspen, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS A fire that started just after 2 p.m. a few miles south of Glenwood Springs delayed traffic on Highway 82 briefly, and at one point flames reached as high as 20 feet.”A couple of times some of the trees crowned, and we had some flame heights up toward 20 feet,” said Glenwood Springs fire Capt. Gary Tillotson.A cause has yet to be officially determined, Tillotson said, but a cigarette flicked out of a car driving along Highway 82 could have been the cause.

“We’re leaning toward improperly discarded smoking material,” he said.However, Tillotson said a construction crew working on building a bike path along the old railroad bed was doing some grinding, which is also under investigation as a possible cause.”The fire basically traveled for probably three-eighths of a mile trapped between old 82 and the current 82, and it spanned across the old railroad where they’re building the new bike path,” Tillotson said. “We were able to get it under control fairly quickly because we had light, variable winds, which gave us a chance to get out ahead of it.”He said stronger winds would have made it a lot more dangerous, possibly threatening the nearby Riverside Cottages.

A group of neighbors watched the smoke and flames from a bluff above the Roaring Fork River not far from the Park East neighborhood. The flames appeared to have been moving south along Highway 82, with large clouds of smoke drifting south.Around 3 p.m. most of the smoke had subsided. Karen Iverson, who has a wildland firefighter in her family, thought the fire department responded well.”They got on this. They did a good job,” she said.

At one point, a water truck drove along the shoulder of the road dumping water out of its side onto the charred hillside. Glenwood Springs police assisted and blocked off old Highway 82 during the blaze. One lane of Highway 82 was closed for part of the afternoon.There were about 30 firefighters on the scene. Glenwood Springs dispatched three engines, Carbondale assisted with two, and the Burning Mountains Fire Protection District provided one fire engine, Tillotson said. “We’ve got it 100 percent contained,” he said. “We’re doing some mop-up and will be patrolling it throughout the night.”

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