News in Brief | AspenTimes.com

News in Brief

Child lighting match starts brush fire in WillitsA youngster playing with a match started a brush fire that got within 35 feet of a condominium complex Wednesday in Willits.A boy told police he found the match, lit it on a cement curb and dropped it when it singed his finger. The fire started grass on fire and created a problem when the wind whipped the flames across a vacant lot, Basalt Fire Chief Scott Thompson said.He said a volunteer firefighter who lives in the Willits section of Basalt called in the fire. Between his call and the response by fire trucks, the flames grew significantly, Thompson said. The fire could have posed a danger to the condos if it wasn’t extinguished immediately, he said. Green grass and thistles in the empty lot also burned easily and sent up a bunch of smoke.Despite a relatively wet spring and rain as recently as Sunday, conditions are dry. “People don’t understand the grasses are curing and turning brown,” Thompson said.He said homeowners in rural areas will have to be aware as the summer progresses that the wet conditions this spring caused grass to grow taller and thicker than in recent years. They will need to cut it away from their houses before it dies off and poses a fire hazard. “There’s a huge potential [for brush fires] once it starts drying out,” Thompson said.The child playing with matches won’t face any type of charge, according to Basalt police Sgt. Joe Chavira. A representative of the homeowners association asked that the boy be lectured and that police talk to his parents. That mission was accomplished.Aspen man found dead in bedA 58-year-old Aspen man was found dead in bed at his Aspen residence Wednesday morning, according to authorities.John Richard Vavrek, 58, of 819 E. Hyman Ave., unit 4, was found dead by friends, according to deputy coroner Scott Thompson. The police dispatch center was contacted at 7:30 a.m.There was no evidence of foul play but the death is under investigation. “There really was no evidence of why he passed away,” said Thompson, who ordered an autopsy.Little information was available regarding Vavrek. Thompson said he was disabled and used a wheel chair. Friends helped care for him.Torre to be mayor pro temCity Councilman Torre will succeed Councilwoman Rachel Richards as mayor pro tem, the council agreed at a work session Tuesday.The mayor pro tem handles the mayor’s responsibilities when the mayor is unavailable. The council agreed on various board assignments for its members Tuesday; they will be formalized later this month.Cost of contract Burlingame contract goes upA $39.5 million contract for the construction of the first phase of Burlingame Ranch won City Council approval Tuesday after a lengthy discussion about an extra $739,735 in fees that the city will pay, since it’s the developer of the housing project.The school impact and water tap fees were drastically underestimated in design team Shaw-Poss-DHM’s budget, according to city staffers. In addition, the budget, originally about $35 million, increased by about $3.5 million after the council chose to make upgrades within the project.In the future, tap fees and school impact fees shouldn’t be included in a design team’s construction budget, since those costs are calculated by the city and passed directly to the city, City Attorney John Worcester advised. Shaw-Poss-DHM had initially requested the tap fees – a charge to hook up to the city’s water utility – be waived, but the council refused.”I would not support waiving any of the fees here,” said Mayor Helen Klanderud. “I don’t know that we would waive them for anyone else.”