Farm equipment sparks hay fire at Walker Ranch in Gypsum
Firefighters also respond to Valley Road closure when high wind blows over tree, blocks road
GYPSUM — Exhaust from a piece of farm equipment ignited a hay fire at the Walker Ranch in Gypsum late Thursday morning, sending up a pillar of smoke visible from Interstate 70 and spreading a smoky aroma through the lower Eagle Valley.
“This thing is going to smoke for a long time,” said Gypsum Fire Chief Justin Kirkland, mid-afternoon on Aug. 22. “And burning grass doesn’t smell good.”
Kirkland said Gypsum crews were dispatched to the file at 11:48 a.m.”Larry (Walker, the property owner) said it took off quickly. By the time he called 911, it was burning really fast.”
Crews from Gypsum Fire Protection District, Greater Eagle Fire Protection District, the town of Gypsum, the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office and Vail Dispatch responded to the fire.
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In addition to the hay pile, one open-sided shed was lost. Kirkland said the nature of the fire fuel meant it would take several hours to fully extinguish the blaze.
“We will probably be here well into the evening,” he said.
While the fire was burning close to several buildings, crews were able to protect those structures even as high winds developed during the afternoon hours.
However, those strong winds caused other issues in Gypsum Thursday when a tree was blown over, briefly blocking Valley Road between Cooley Mesa Road and Bradford Lane.
Kirkland said the hay fire was clearly accidental.
“This was Larry’s harvest for the year so it’s pretty sad for him. It just wiped him out,” Kirkland said.
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When a crowd of around 500 people showed up in Vail on Tuesday night to join a protest march in support of Black Lives Matter, the gathering plainly violated Eagle County’s current COVID-19 recommendations.