Firefighters in West Routt County battle a small wildfire near the Carpenter Ranch, just east of Hayden.

Photo by Scott Franz

Firefighters in West Routt County battle a small wildfire near the Carpenter Ranch, just east of Hayden.

Carpenter Ranch wildfire stays at 5 acres while firefighters pause efforts until Tuesday

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A wildfire burns Monday in the cottonwood trees at Carpenter Ranch just east of Hayden. Firefighters planned to resume fighting the fire on Tuesday morning.

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A wildfire burns at the Carpenter Ranch just east of Hayden. West Routt Fire Chief Bryan Rickman said the fire has grown from half of an acre to five acres, but still is not threatening any structures.

— Firefighters from around Routt County spent much of Monday battling a wildfire that grew quickly at the Carpenter Ranch just east of Hayden.

Emergency responders said the fire, which continued to burn Monday night in grassland and cottonwood trees, should remind residents here about the elevated fire danger.

As he left the fire Monday night, Routt County Emergency Management Director Bob Struble said the wildfire held to about 5 acres and was not threatening any structures as firefighters prepared to pause for the night.

He said the firefighting efforts will resume in earnest at 7 a.m. Tuesday.

"We'll hit it hard again" Tuesday, Struble said.

Earlier, West Routt Fire Chief Bryan Rickman said the fire, which was reported at 11 a.m. Monday, quickly grew from half an acre to 5 acres.

Rickman thinks the fire actually started at about 9 p.m. Sunday night, the result of a lightning strike that smoldered until Monday morning.

"My hope is it will not continue to grow," Rickman said, adding that fire crews had established a "wet line" around 75 percent of the burn area by Monday afternoon. "We're maintaining right now, but I'm very concerned if we get high winds (Tuesday), that could change."

Rickman said 21 firefighters from Hayden, Steamboat Springs, Oak Creek and Yampa were aggressively fighting the blaze.

Much of the burn area is surrounded by the Yampa River, and the fire was hundreds of yards away from any buildings on the historic ranch property.

Rickman said an additional fire crew from Loveland was expected to help fight the fire. The crew is under contract with The Nature Conservancy, which operates the Carpenter Ranch.

Rickman and Struble said the blaze should serve as a reminder of the growing fire danger in Routt County.

"People don't believe the fire danger is as high as it is, but this is an indication of how dry it's becoming," Rickman said.

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