Fire near midvalley controlled burn flares up | AspenTimes.com

Fire near midvalley controlled burn flares up

Aspen Times staff report
Aspen, CO Colorado

BASALT – A small wildfire flared up on Light Hill on Wednesday afternoon within an area where the Upper Colorado River Interagency Fire Management Unit conducted a controlled burn last weekend.

The fire torched unburned or partially burned vegetation over about an acre, according to Basalt Fire Chief Scott Thompson. Plumes of smoke were visible throughout the midvalley, and flames 4 to 6 feet high were visible when firefighters arrived on scene.

Firefighters didn’t want to take any chances with the fire getting out of control, especially after the catastrophic fire outside of Boulder earlier this month and another fire west of Loveland.

“We expected the worst; we ramped up for the worst,” Thompson said.

He called in a spotter airplane from the fire management unit to scout the fire. In addition, fire engines and crews were stationed at the Gateway to Snowmass subdivision, east of the fire, and in other strategic places as a precaution. The fire was on a part of Light Hill accessed off East Sopris Creek Road, roughly 5 miles south of the Emma schoolhouse.

Basalt Fire had 28 firefighters at the scene. The federal agencies had left a fire hose line in place on the mountain after Saturday’s burn. Basalt firefighters responding to the scene in brush trucks tapped into that hose line and sprayed water on and around the burning area to cool it down and make sure it didn’t jump the perimeter, Thompson said. They were joined by a fire truck and crew of three from the Bureau of Land Management.

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Thompson said shortly after 6 p.m. that the fire had died down because winds dropped and humidity was building as nightfall approached.

Federal agencies were scheduled to watch the burn area Thursday. About 90 acres were intentionally burned Saturday as part of an ongoing effort to reduce natural fuels and improve wildlife habitat. The burn was monitored by federal officials through the weekend and into this week, but no one was at the scene at the time of Wednesday’s flare-up.