Vail-area hut fire ‘likely’ caused by lighting system |

Vail-area hut fire ‘likely’ caused by lighting system

VAIL, Colorado – A fire that burned down the Fowler-Hilliard Hut in the Vail-area backcountry was likely caused by the hut’s lighting system, investigators say.

The blaze was “most likely started from a problem with the solar panel/ battery-powered lighting system in the hut,” investigators found, according to Shannon Cordingly, spokeswoman for the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office.

However, lightning on the night of Sept. 20 could not be ruled out as a potential factor, Cordingly said.

The hut was discovered burned to the ground Sept. 23. Fire investigators from the Eagle River Fire Protection District, the Forest Service, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, and the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office examined the scene.

The Tenth Mountain Division Hut Association, which owns the hut, says it plans to rebuild.

Fowler-Hilliard was part of a system of 31 backcountry huts managed by the 10th Mountain Division Hut Association. People can reserve the huts in both the winter and summer for overnight or multi-day trips.

The huts are popular with backcountry skiers and snowshoers in the winter and mountain bikers and hikers in the winter. The system sees about 50,000 stays in its huts per year.

The hut sat on the side of Resolution Mountain at 11,500 feet in elevation, about four miles east of Red Cliff and four miles southwest of Vail Pass. It is known for great backcountry skiing nearby the hut.

Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 970-748-2929 or

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