Crews contain Missouri Heights fire |

Crews contain Missouri Heights fire

Firefighters expected to have a small wildfire in the high ground above Missouri Heights completely contained today without damage to any homes, authorities said.Crews improved and created new lines around the High Aspen fire yesterday and doused hot spots within the 65-acre burn area, according to Carl Smith, deputy chief of the Carbondale Fire Department. The fire was on private property.A helicopter was used yesterday to dump water on the remaining flames and hot areas, Smith said. The helicopter was assisted Monday night by one small and two large air tankers that dropped retardant.A fire engine and crew is stationed at the home on the property where the fire started in order to protect it in case the fire flares up at its source. That home is actually in the Homestead Acres subdivision rather than the adjacent High Aspen Ranch subdivision for which the fire was named, according to a property owner intimately knowledgeable of the area.The home belongs to John Schuhmacher, Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario confirmed. Schuhmacher also has a residence in Aspen’s West End. He couldn’t be reached for comment on the fire.Vallario said Carbondale firefighters examined a barbecue area on the Schuhmacher property but didn’t believe that was the source of the fire. It appeared to start elsewhere on that property, he said. State investigators were called in to help study how the fire started, according to Vallario.A ban on open fires is in place on private lands in Garfield County.No estimates were available yesterday on the cost of fighting the blaze.Smith said the hand crews that were building fire lines had to work in steep terrain yesterday. Efforts were also hampered by gusty winds and hot, dry conditions.Firefighters said this fire was unusual because it continued to spread through aspen trees, which are normally slow to burn and provide a natural break, according to a press release from the Carbondale Fire Department.”This fire continued burning through the aspen stands toward the top of the ridge,” the statement said. “The fire in an aspen stand also presents a significant danger to the firefighters. Aspen trees that have burned tend to fall easily due to the lack of a substantial root system.”Firefighters from the Carbondale and Basalt fire departments were on the scene along with federal crews.Scott Condon’s e-mail address is

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