From the archives: The 1980 Weller Lake fire |

From the archives: The 1980 Weller Lake fire

A smoke plume from the Weller Lake fire in 1980. Aspen Historical Society
Aspen Historical Society

“Weller Lake fire expected to be under control by tonight,” announced the Aspen Times on July 24, 1980. “Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. Those are the feelings you get, walking in the wake of devastation from the Weller Lake forest fire that has by today destroyed some 950 acres of timber and tundra. The scene above Weller Lake on Monday was like something on another planet. Tree trunks crumbled away to dust at just the touch of a finger. Burned boulders popped off their top layers in the intense heat. Swaths of black toothpicks stretched in lines up the once-green hills. There were no sounds of squirrels or pikas, only the buzz of pumps feeding fire hoses, and the shouts of fire crews as they relayed instructions. The forest fire, which is expected ‘with some confidence’ to be controlled by this evening, began innocuously enough last Thursday as a small campfire. The fire ring that flames escaped is just above Weller Lake, a small circle of rocks. Forest service investigators are still searching for one or more persons who left the campfire unattended.”