Homeowner cited in Cattle Creek fire | AspenTimes.com

Homeowner cited in Cattle Creek fire

CARBONDALE – The Garfield County Sheriff’s Office issued a summons to a person who allegedly accidentally started a fire Saturday that threatened 90 homes, officials said Monday.

“One party was issued a summons who admitted to starting the fire by accident with a firework,” said Philip Strouse, a spokesman for the sheriff’s office. The person was not taken to jail. The suspect’s name and other details weren’t released Monday. Strouse said “more information should be forthcoming” Tuesday.

Carbondale firefighters were dispatched to 202 Cotton Hollow Lane at 4:17 p.m. Saturday for a brush fire, Deputy Fire Chief Carl Smith said. Firefighters found a forested hillside on fire when they arrived at the rural residential neighborhood about 5 miles up Cattle Creek Road.

“That fire was spreading rapidly,” Smith said. The flames were within 100 feet of one house, and a total of 90 homes were within a mile of the blaze, he said. The area is between Cattle Creek and Crystal Springs roads.

A source with knowledge of the fire and investigation into the cause said a homeowner in the neighborhood admitted to setting the fire by accident.

The Basalt fire department sent firefighters and equipment under mutual aid agreements, and Carbondale fire officers immediately called for assistance from the Upper Colorado River Interagency Management Unit. That’s the coordinating entity for federal firefighters and equipment in western Colorado.

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Smith said two “very fortunate” factors helped prevent the spread of the fire and avoid possible catastrophic results. First, two helicopters were available from the federal fire management center. They dipped into streams and ranch ponds in the area to collect water to dump on the fire.

Equally fortuitous, Smith said, was that Idaho City (Idaho) Hotshots were traveling on Interstate 70 about an hour from the Roaring Fork Valley fire. The Hotshots, elite wildland firefighters, were on their way home from fighting a different blaze and were sent to Cattle Creek, according to Smith.

The fire was contained by 9:30 p.m. Saturday and was entirely extinguished by Sunday afternoon, Smith said. Officials estimated it burned two acres.

Smith said the Carbondale Fire Department’s policy is not to discuss fire causes when a criminal investigation is involved.

No outdoor fire ban is in place in Garfield County, but Smith urged people to be careful with fireworks, campfires and any equipment with a flame or that causes a spark.

scondon@aspentimes.com