Weed cutter sparked Rifle fire

Glenwood Springs correspondent

A power weed trimmer apparently sparked the Red Apple Fire near Rifle last month that destroyed one home and forced the evacuation of dozens of residents.

Investigators have determined it was use of the lawn implement that accidentally started the blaze, according to Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario.

Allegedly, homeowners in the area were working in their yard with a weed-cutting device when one of them set it down for a moment. The heat from the device sparked tinder-dry weeds in the area, according to Vallario.

“It’s just unfortunate, the dry elements around here,” Vallario said.

The Sheriff’s Department will send the investigation report to the district attorney’s office this week; the DA will decide whether or not criminal charges will be filed. The names of the individuals using the weed cutter were not released.

The fire started southwest of Rifle on Aug. 31, burning more than 800 acres and destroying one home, along with three outbuildings.