Panorama Fire nearly contained |

Panorama Fire nearly contained

Lynn Burton

The blaze did not spread Thursday.

Garfield County Sheriff Tom Dalessandri said the fire started around 12:30 p.m. Wednesday at a house under construction in the Panorama Estates subdivision north of Carbondale.

Dalessandri said a subcontractor, the New Castle-based Mendoza Concrete, had a seven-member crew doing foundation work on the house when the fire started. No arrests have been made.

“We’re in the process of trying to locate the seven-person crew,” Dalessandri said.

Dalessandri said he heard unconfirmed reports that a welder’s spark at the construction site touched off the blaze.

Garfield County has had a ban on open flames all summer.

The fast-moving wildfire, which spread to 1,500 acres in less than five hours, destroyed three residences – a metal-roofed house, a double-wide trailer and an occupied teepee.

In addition, two other houses were damaged by the fire.

All the structures were located in an area about a quarter-square-mile in size west of Spring Park Reservoir and about a mile east of where the fire began.

At least three homes were saved by the actions of firefighters, said Gary Gleason, spokesman for the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

An area several football fields in size west of the reservoir was completely blackened, and the charred scrub oak, stripped of their leaves, looked gnarlier than usual. Pale smoke rose from the ashes and hovered above the ground like a fog.

Winds as high as 40 miles per hour whipped the area, and Gleason suggested to reporters they stay away from the trees because they could re-ignite.

“It wouldn’t kill you,” Gleason said. “But it would be flashy and hot.”

Near the remains of the trailer, surrounded on three sides by thick stands of scrub oak, were melted snowmobiles and a burned-up horse trailer.

The remaining fire is moving northeast toward Basalt Mountain.

“The active area is along Cattle Creek,” said Bill Smith from the Eagle County Sheriff’s Department. “It’s difficult to maneuver around in, but it’s not an area of great concern for us.”

Smith said containment comes when a fire is completely circled.

“We’re confident our containment lines will hold,” Smith said. “This gives us a pretty good comfort level.”

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