Garfield County fires controlled
August 26, 2008
GARFIELD COUNTY ” A fire that burned 25 acres in the Garfield Creek State Wildlife Area over the weekend was deemed “controlled and contained” as of 2 p.m. Monday afternoon.
“It’s out, but we will be monitoring it for the next couple of hours,” said Burning Mountains Fire Protection District’s Chief Brit McLin.
According to McLin, the origin of the fire was determined thanks to witnesses who reported the blaze while it was still a small fire, but no cause has been found.
“It appears to have started immediately contiguous to the road surface,” McLin said. “We have found no device that would have started the fire.”
Another fire in the same area in July that burned 6 acres was ignited when a backhoe digging a trench for a new pipeline struck a rock and created a spark. Orion Energy Partners is currently drilling in the area and was the company who was doing the work on the pipeline. However, there is no connection between the two fires.
Burning Mountains Fire Protection District was aided in extinguishing the blaze by two single engine air tankers, one from Rollins, Wyo., a hot shot fire crew from Silverthorne and the Alpine Hot Shots from the Estes Park area. The Upper Colorado River Interagency Fire Management Unit (UCR) also aided in the blaze early but were not working on the fire Monday, according to UCR’s assistant fire management officer Lathan Johnson.
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Also helping fight the blaze were members of the Rifle Correctional Center-based State Wildland Inmate Fire Team (SWIFT), which is always a big hand in fighting fires throughout Garfield County, according to McLin.
“We had them on scene for the last two days, and they were a tremendous help,” McLin said. “We use them as much as we can, and they are great.”
A structure fire ” an outbuilding east of Coal Ridge High School ” also burned Sunday afternoon, according to McLin. No injuries were sustained, and the building was not damaged. However, further information was limited Monday due to fire crews working the Garfield Creek fire, according to McLin.
And, a temporary Colorado Division of Wildlife employee is responsible for starting a haf-acre fire at the West Rifle Creek State Wildlife Area, according to DOW spokesman Randy Hampton.
“It was a small fire at the site,” Hampton said. “One of our temporary summer employees was burning some trash that got away from him and with the assistance of the Rifle Fire Protection District, they got it put out pretty quickly.”
According to Kevin Whelan, Rifle fire marshal, firefighters responded to the blaze about 2:40 p.m. Sunday afternoon with three pieces of apparatus and a total of 11 emergency responders including Rifle firefighters, the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Garfield County Sheriff’s Office, DOW and the SWIFT crews.
Whelan said the fire started when a “burn barrel” ignited some of the dry wildland brush surrounding the barrel. The burn also damaged some phone lines that connect to the Rifle Correctional Center, according to Whelan. The DOW employee was not given a citation for the incident, but Whelan used the incident as a reminder to county residents that the fire season is still active and that Garfield County and many municipalities have fire and open burning restrictions still in place for this reason.
“Burning trash in barrels is no longer allowed by state regulations,” Whelan said. “Once a county goes over 25,000 population, burn barrels are no longer permitted.”