Summit Fire douses wildfire north of Silverthorne
SILVERTHORNE — Wildfire season has arrived.
Crews with Summit Fire & EMS responded to a small wildfire off Elk Run Road north of Silverthorne on Tuesday afternoon. While the blaze was quickly doused, officials say it’s a stern reminder that fires can pop up unpredictably and that residents need to be ready.
“We are in wildfire season now,” said Steve Lipsher, a spokesperson for Summit Fire & EMS. “Pretty much anywhere you can live in Summit County, you’re in the wildland urban interface. As a result, everyone should be prepared today for the possibility that a wildfire could threaten you or your home. If you haven’t, it is time to put together your plans.”
Summit Fire received the call at about noon and sent a hefty response to deal with the fire. Lipsher said a worker was cutting culvert piping with an oxy-acetylene torch when a spark landed in a nearby grass and sage field and started the blaze.
Lipsher said the fire grew to just over a half-acre in size and was traveling uphill with the help of heavy winds toward residential properties a quarter mile away. Though, firefighters arrived in time to stop it from reaching any structures. No property damage or injuries were reported.
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In total, four fire engines — two regular engines and two wildland engines — arrived on scene along with a water tender truck and about 20 firefighters.
“We have the attitude that we’re going to throw the kitchen sink at these right now,” Lipsher said. “We don’t want a major wildfire — period — but even more so in the era of COVID-19 because of the difficulties of managing potentially hundreds of firefighters from around the nation working shoulder to shoulder.”
The crews were able to control the fire within about 45 minutes of arriving and spent the next couple of hours performing “mop-up” work, turning over smoldering materials and dousing them with water and dirt.
The blaze represents the area’s first notable fire of 2020, and Lipsher said he hopes it will nudge residents to begin planning for the possibility of bigger fires as conditions worsen. He advised that residents take some time to prepare an evacuation kit, make sure they have sufficient insurance, back up vital documents and other necessary precautions.
On Tuesday afternoon, officials upgraded the county’s fire danger level from low to moderate, due to recent warm weather and high winds.
“There was no damage to homes or anything like that on this one,” Lipsher said. “By the end of the summer, it will be all nice and green up there. But it was a scary moment and a good early season wakeup call for everyone that our vegetation is dry enough that on a windy, dusty day it doesn’t take much to start a fire.”