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June 9, 2012
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Wildland fire in Eagle

EAGLE - Cynthia Lepthien and Bill Trout were barely gone 15 minutes when they returned to find a wildland fire burning toward their house on Brooks Lane.

The blaze scorched just over 2 acres of sage and dry grass, but firefighters from four departments and two government agencies were taking no chances, knocking it down quickly as 30-mph wind gusts blew it toward the neighborhood homes.

Lepthien and Trout drove a mile or so to Eagle's Upper Kaibab neighborhood to feed their horses and saw the smoke on their way back. The closer they drove, the more alarmed they became.

"We saw the smoke and said, 'That's near our house. That's really near our house,'" Lepthien said.

It didn't make it, and it didn't get close. A gravel driveway separated their backyard from the flames, and they'd watered their grass the night before, creating the defensible space that local fire officials have been preaching about.

In this case, they were preaching fire to the choir.

Bill jumped on a garden hose and started soaking everything in the fire's path. In moments, though, firefighters were on the scene and broke out equipment that pumps water at rates of thousands of gallons per minute.

The only casualties were a log shed made of what appeared to be railroad ties and a large piece of rusting, antique, horse-drawn farm equipment that had not been used in decades.

What caused the fire remains under investigation, said John Patterson, chief of the Greater Eagle Fire Protection District.

Firefighters responded from Eagle, Gypsum, Vail, the Eagle River Fire Protection District, the airport firefighting crew, along with law enforcement from the Eagle police, the Eagle County Sheriff's Office and the Colorado State Patrol.


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The VailDaily Updated Jun 9, 2012 01:24PM Published Jun 9, 2012 01:22PM Copyright 2012 The VailDaily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.