Winds drive wildfire on Silt Mesa

Dennis Webb
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado
A plane drops a load of retardant on a fire along Harvey Gap Road Sunday afternoon. (Courtesy Sandy Pickard)

SILT – A wildfire burned perhaps 5 acres just east of Harvey Gap Road on Silt Mesa Sunday evening as of 8 p.m., threatening structures and apparently claiming at least one vehicle.

Firefighters were called around 6:15 p.m., and no structures had been lost as of two hours later, by which time the fire had calmed down, said Brit McLin, chief of the Burning Mountains Fire Protection District.

“We’re all quite surprised that it laid down as quickly as it did,” he said.

Earlier, the fire had been driven by high winds. A helicopter made numerous water drops on the blaze and an airplane dropped three loads of slurry, according to Silt Mesa resident Sandy Pickard.

The fire burned on either side of Bluebell Lane and forced the closing of Harvey Gap Road.

McLin said he thought one and possibly as many as three vehicles were lost in the fire. He said they may have been abandoned vehicles.

Investigators were continuing to try to determine the cause of the blaze. McLin said firefighters had received reports of possible causes ranging from a flat tire to a cigarette butt to a chain dragging from a trailer.

Crews from the Rifle Fire Department and Upper Colorado River Interagency Fire Management assisted in Sunday’s effort.

McLin added, “The neighbors dove in and participated in the early stages of the fire. They were of great help with suppression.”

Pickard agreed, adding that it was a good thing it happened when residents were at home. “If it had been a Monday, there’d be some properties gone,” she said.