Carbondale: Brush fire is 20 percent contained |

Carbondale: Brush fire is 20 percent contained

Janet Urquhart/Aspen TimesEagle County authorities have closed off Highway 82 at El Jebel, upvalley of a wildfire burning outside of Carbondale. The plume of billowing, wind-whipped smoke is visible throughout the mid-Roaring Fork Valley.

CARBONDALE , Colorado ” A brush fire has charred 300 acres and caused minor damage to two homes in the midvalley as of 5 p.m., Carbondale Fire Chief Ron Leach said.

“The fire is 20 percent contained. We’re still battling high winds,” Leach said.

Ranch at Roaring Fork was evacuated, though some residents stayed to try to save their homes. Residents of Missouri Heights within a 3-mile radius of Catherine Store also were advised to evacuate via a reverse 911 call from the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office, officials said.

Highway 82 was closed between El Jebel and Cattle Creek Road due to the danger posed by the fire and the firefighting effort. Law enforcement officials are guiding motorists along an alternative route in Missouri Heights, but traffic was snarled in the El Jebel area even before the 5 p.m. rush.

One lane in each direction on Highway 82 is scheduled to reopen at 7:30 p.m., KSNO radio was reporting.

Firefighters from throughout the Roaring Fork Valley and as far away Clifton and Paonia were helping battle the blaze, which was whipped by swirling winds of up to 50 mph, according to Leach.

The fire damaged one home along County Road 100, the back road into Carbondale, and another in the Ranch at Roaring Fork subdivision, Leach said. Firefighters put the fires out before they caused extensive damage, he said.

The firefighters’ strategy was to contain the flames until dark, when the winds were forecast to die down, Leach said. Rain and snow are expected in the Roaring Fork Valley on Wednesday.

The fire was reported at 12:05 p.m. about 1.5 miles east of Carbondale, Leach said. The wind-whipped fire threatened 10 homes between County Road 100, also known as Catherine Store Road, and the Roaring Fork River, he said. Carbondale called for aid from the Basalt Fire Department.

The flames jumped the Roaring Fork River at about 1:15 p.m. and encircled several homes on the west end of the Ranch at Roaring Fork. Firefighters scrambled to the subdivision and called for reinforcements.

The fire jumped to the north side of Highway 82 at about 2:40 p.m. and started burning up toward the old Carbondale dump, which has been closed for years.

Leach said parts of Missouri Heights were threatened, but scores of firefighters were battling the flames and guarding homes in the immediate vicinity of the flames.

Leach said the cause of the fire was still under investigation.

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