Suspects questioned in Mountain Star fire
The men, who are both 18 and live in the Edwards area, have admitted to firing a flare gun near the trailhead shortly before the fire broke out around 12:30 a.m., Avon Police Detective Mike Leake said.
“It’s so dry that this conduct will not be tolerated,” Leake said.
The District Attorney’s Office is reviewing the case and may file second-degree arson charges against the pair, Leake said.
Their names are being withheld pending the district attorney’s decision.
The blaze that started burning near the Buck Creek trailhead –about half a mile up Mountain Star Road – took 40 firefighters about 10 hours to extinguish and it did not threaten any homes, said Kathy Warren, a spokeswoman for the Eagle River Fire Protection District.
But high winds that night could have sent the fire running up the valley, Warren said.
“It’s just kind of sad someone would do something like that when we’re trying to save resources and energy to react to a real emergency,” Warren said.
When firefighters arrived at the Mountain Star fire, flames were leaping 10 feet in the air and spreading quickly in sagebrush, Warren said.
But firefighters were helped out by a path that created a natural fire break and blocked the fire from getting out of control, Warren said.
“Most wildland fires don’t move at night but this one acted like it was broad daylight,” Warren said.
The fire was brought under control by 3 a.m. and pretty much extinguished by 10 a.m., she said.
“The sad thing is there are always people out there who for one reason or another are fascinated by fire or who want 15 minutes of fame and want to see their names in the paper,” Warren said. “This fire ran our resources very thin.”
Eagle River Fire Protection District, Gypsum Fire Protection District, Greater Eagle Fire Protection District, Vail Fire Department, Eagle County sheriff’s deputies, Avon police, the Eagle County Ambulance District and U.S. Forest Service officials also fought the fire.
Should a major fire break out in Eagle County, fire officials can judge the winds to forecast where the blaze will go and then notify residents who need to be evacuated with the reverse 911 system, Warren said.
“People will have plenty of notice,” she said. “Everyone has to stay calm and they need to keep watch. If they see anything suspicious let police or the fire department know and we can check it out.”
Residents throughout Eagle County made jittery by the many wildfires burning in Colorado have called local fire departments asking about evacuation procedures.
Last week, firefighters received dozens of calls from residents who were worried about smoking wafting into the valley from the Coal Seam Fire in Glenwood Springs. Some residents were afraid wildfires had broken out much closer to their homes.
Residents can get tips on protecting homes from wildfires and information on evacuation procedures by calling Warren at the Eagle River Fire Protection District at 748-4739. They can also call Chuck House at the Eagle Fire Protection District at 748-4740.
Matt Zalaznick covers public safety, Eagle County Courts and Avon/ Beaver Creek. He can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 606, or via e-mail at email@example.com.