`Controlled burns’ get out of control | AspenTimes.com

`Controlled burns’ get out of control

Tim Mutrie

Strong afternoon winds blew two separate “controlled burns” into out-of-control brush fires in Carbondale Tuesday, according to firefighters.

One fire, just off County Road 115 in Missouri Heights, torched about 20 acres and threatened a barn-like structure before firefighters brought it under control, said Chief Ron Leach of the Carbondale and Rural Fire Protection District.

Leach said 25 volunteer firefighters from Carbondale, six from Basalt and about five from Glenwood Springs saved the structure from going up in flames.

“The firemen did an outstanding job,” Leach said. “There were no injuries and no equipment was broken.”

The other controlled burn that got away was off County Road 100 near Carbondale, Leach said. The fire burned about five acres of scrub land, Leach said.

Leach estimated that the Carbondale and Rural Fire Protection District has been called to about 15 brush fires this month alone.

“The conditions are very dry,” Leach said. “We haven’t had any moisture at all the whole month of March; the vegetation is very dry and the fire danger is high.

“The biggest enemy we have is the wind. I’ll bet all the brush fires we’ve been on have been in the afternoon. So the moral to the story is, if you’re going to do a controlled burn, do it in the morning before the wind comes up.”

Because the fire danger is so high, Leach said the Carbondale fire district is considering whether it should cease issuance of controlled burn permits. He said conditions will dictate that decision.

Aspen Fire Marshal Ed Van Walraven said last week that conditions may force the Aspen Fire Department to issue controlled burn permits only through April. Typically, Aspen issues permits through May.

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