Lightning sparks wildfire near Carbondale
July 14, 2005
Who says lightning doesn’t strike the same place twice?For the second time in two months lightning started a wildfire on the same property near Carbondale. The land is about a half-mile north of the LaFarge gravel pit just off Highway 82, according to authorities.Lightning from a dry storm started a tree on fire at about 6 p.m. Thursday and high winds quickly whipped the blaze into dry grasses and brush on a hillside. By 6:30 p.m. the fire had grown to about one acre, Carbondale firefighters on the scene estimated in a report to dispatchers.A ranch was within a couple of hundred feet of the fire but no structures appeared threatened. However, officials were initially concerned the fire would spread and blow over a ridge because winds were so gusty.Fire trucks blanketed the ranch yard but equipment couldn’t negotiate the steep hillside. Firefighters ran hoses up the hill and hand crews were working around the site chopping down trees and scraping fire lines. A spokesman for the Carbondale fire department estimated that 30 firefighters were on the scene. The Basalt fire department assisted Carbondale.A helicopter from the Upper Colorado River Interagency Fire Management Unit in Rifle dipped its bucket into a nearby pond numerous times and doused the brush and grass around the fire. The chopper cleared the area at about 8 p.m. and firefighters appeared to have the fire under control.Smoke and occasional flames were visible from Carbondale. One couple drove into the LaGarge gravel pit while it was still operating and watched the firefighting effort, then found the gate locked when they tried to exit. They called the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office for help getting out.An earlier blaze in the same general area in late May was confined to a single tree after a lightning strike.