Two small wildfires in El Jebel apparently started by carelessness

Scott Condon, Aspen Times
A firefighter douses burning grass in a wildfire along Highway 82 in the El Jebel area on Thursay. It was one of two wildfires started on the shoulder.
Scott Condon/The Aspen Times

Two small wildfires broke out on the shoulder of Highway 82 in the midvalley shortly after 11 a.m. Thursday.

The first fire was directly across the highway from the Blue Lake entrance, according to Kevin Issel, deputy chief for Roaring Fork Fire Rescue. A second fire ignited about 1 mile east.

“That’s evidence of how dry it is and how fast fire can move,” he said.

The causes are unknown but it appears likely that both fires were started by someone throwing something out a window, Issel said.

The western-most fire spread quickly over a few hundred feet parallel to the highway, while the eastern fire was largely contained to a small patch. Firefighters from Carbondale joined the effort. No injuries occurred and no structures were damaged. A wildlife fence was cut to provide access to flames on the other side, Issel said.

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Traffic on Highway 82 proved to be more difficult to deal with than the firefighting. The traffic volume demonstrated just how busy the valley is, according to Issel.

“We were having a problem getting people to slow down,” he said.

The situation got better with traffic control by Eagle County Sheriff’s Office and Basalt Police Department.

All firefighters cleared the scene by noon.

Roaring Fork Fire Rescue also responded to a fire on Tuesday. A small blaze broke out under power lines high on a hillside east of Basalt. That fire was also snuffed without issue.

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