Man-made blazes stretch firefighters thin |

Man-made blazes stretch firefighters thin

Matt Zalaznick

But they do not also want to have to put out man-made fires that shouldn’t have started in the first place, says Kathy Warren, a spokeswoman with the Eagle River Fire Protection District.

A 6-acre fire that broke out at the Buck Creek trailhead below Mountain Star in Avon was allegedly started by a flare gun, police said.

“We had to go fight a fire that could have spread all the way up that hill with the prevailing winds that night. The potential was great,” Warren said. “But this fire was preventable.”

One crew from the Greater Eagle Fire Protection District spent 12 hours fighting and mopping up the blaze.

They left Avon around noon, but about 10 minutes later rushed to another wildfire that broke out near the Eagle County Landfill and spent several hours battling that 40-acre blaze, Warren said.

All open fires and fireworks have been banned by Eagle County Sheriff A.J. Johnson. This fire ban will remain in effect until the mountains get doused with rain and the wildfire danger has diminished, officials said.

Because of the drought, Johnson imposed fire restrictions nearly seven weeks earlier than last summer, Police in the valley say the ban will be strictly enforced because of the extreme risk of any ember igniting a destructive wildfire.

Vail Police Chief Dwight Henninger said people caught lighting fireworks or open fires won’t just get a warning this summer –they’ll get a summons to appear in court.

“One bottle rocket on somebody’s roof could cause the entire town to go up,” Henninger said. “We’re talking about all of our livelihoods and the things we all came here for. It would take a long time to regrow and it wouldn’t happen in our lifetimes.”

Fire bans won’t be lifted until the mountains get steady, heavy rains. Moisture from last weekend’s sprinkles dried up almost as soon as it hit the ground, Warren said.

“It’s like it never even rained,” she said.

Backyard barbecues are not prohibited by the fire ban. And smoking is still allowed, except in the national forest. But Warren urged residents to be extremely cautious with any flame.

“Don’t throw cigarette butts out car windows. Don’t have open flames. It’s just not worth it,” she said. “It can turn into a big fire before you know so if you think there’s potential of starting fire, just don’t do it.”

Support Local Journalism