New in Brief
The Smuggler Mountain property Pitkin County recently purchased is going to get a cleaning, starting Wednesday and running through the end of August. The cleanup crew will include large trucks and other heavy equipment on Smuggler Mountain Road. Pitkin County requests cyclists and hikers proceed with caution and keep dogs on leashes.Call Pitkin County Open Space and Trails ranger/naturalist Keith Berglund at 920-5399 for more information.
A storm that produced lots of lightning but little rain ignited a fire Thursday afternoon on a lower bench of Basalt Mountain. The Basalt fire department pounced on the fire and contained it immediately.The fire was reported at 4:50 p.m. on a bench above Lake Christine and the Basalt shooting range, roughly 600 feet above the Roaring Fork Valley floor and one mile north of Basalt. The fire was on state land in the Basalt Wildlife Area, according to Jerry Peetz, operations director for the Basalt fire department.White smoke billowed from the site and was visible from some vantage points in the midvalley so it captured a lot of attention. The fire threatened no structures.The fire charred a two-acre meadow of dry grasses and sagebrush by the time the first firefighters arrived, Peetz said. The fire had spread to five acres by the time it was contained at 6 p.m., he said. Mop-up operations were expected to continue until 9 p.m., and the department planned to visit the site today.”Fortunately it started in a flat, grassy field that we could drive right to,” Peetz said. “The unusual part was it started burning downhill.”Firefighters worked the flanks of the fire and “pinched” in until they stopped its progress, Peetz said. The flames were stopped about 50 yards shy of pinon trees, which would have supplied “a lot more fuel,” he said.The department responded with 18 firefighters using three brush trucks specially equipped to fight wildfires, as well as with a six-wheel all-terrain vehicle. A tender also supplied extra water for the effort. An Eagle County sheriff’s deputy closed the shooting range shortly after 6 p.m. as a precaution.
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