Garfield County crews battle fire
May 30, 2017
Several Garfield County fire agencies battled a range fire Sunday evening on County Road 311, which is south of Silt.
The Garfield County Sheriff's Office Facebook page said this morning that "As the temperature and winds cooperated, the fire was smaller than first thought," at about 22 acres. Colorado River Fire Rescue crews "feel they have a good handle on it. It is not expected to spread."
Fire crews were paged to Garfield County Road 311 near mile marker 3.5 at about 7 p.m. Monday, where a fire was reported as "out of control." At first the fire was reported to be larger, covering about 60 acres.
Winds and plenty of fuel on the ground in this lower elevation area allowed the fire to flare and spread to the south, according to the sheriff's office.
At risk were a house and barn, and as the fire grew rapidly, crews called in other agencies. Neither of these buildings were lost, though the house was evacuated.
By about 8:30 p.m. the fire had been greatly stifled by dying winds and some geological barriers. Still, fire crews stayed on scene, working the perimeter throughout the night.
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By 7 a.m. Tuesday morning, the fire was 80 percent contained and had burned 22 acres.
Passersby will still be able to see some smoke and smell the fire between Silt and New Castle, but the sheriff's office reports that "mop up efforts" will be ongoing today as crews continue to work for full containment.
Another fire had flared up nearby in the prior 72 hours, reported Walt Stowe, the sheriff's public information officer. The first fire, on Friday, created enough smoke to block visibility on Interstate 70 and force a short closure.
"The fires were of human origin, and though considered accidental at this time, emphasize just how quickly fire can spread," Stowe wrote in a press release. Both of these fires had the potential to become much more serious, he said.
What's particularly unsettling is how common the activities are that originated these fires. Friday night's fire is believed to have started when sparks from a welder ignited a nearby woodpile. And on Monday night, fire investigators believe the fire began when embers got out of control from a man's campfire.
Currently, neither fire is considered to have been maliciously set, said Stowe, who added that the incidents are still being investigated and that he does not yet know whether charges will be filed.
"With the warmer temperatures and afternoon winds everyone is urged to think twice and be aware of the area they are in before starting a fire, welding or doing any other activity that might cause sparks," Stowe wrote in the press release. "Even very hot items, when allowed to contact dry grass or come into contact with the abundance of other natural fuels in our area, can initiate a fire."