Wildfire darkens skies above Edwards
EDWARDS As many Eagle County residents prepared to watch fireworks Tuesday evening, firefighters battled a wildfire on a hillside above the Singletree neighborhood.The fire, believed to have been caused by humans, came within about a mile of homes in the Singletree neighborhood, said Lt. Josh Nagle of the Eagle River Fire Protection District.Three air tankers repeatedly dropped fire retardant on the blaze, which was about 5 to 8 acres in size. Flames were visible from Singletree as black smoke which could be seen from throughout the valley floated over the neighborhood.With the acrid smell of smoke in the air, Eagle County Sheriffs deputies went door to door in Singletree, telling homeowners to turn on their sprinklers and close windows and doors.Reverse 911 would be used if there was a need to evacuate, a deputy told residents of Foal Drive, which was just over a ridge from the fire.Im thinking this is my worst nightmare, said Liz Stern, a Foal Drive resident.About 20 firefighters with four trucks battled the fire, which was reported at 5:58 p.m.. By 9 p.m., local firefighters had been released from the scene.The fire was not deemed contained, but it had stopped spreading and there were no flames, David Boyd of the Upper Colorado River Fire Management Unit said at about 9:30 p.m.The fire was likely caused by humans, Boyd said.One firefighter at a staging area said fireworks had been found on scene, but neither Boyd nor Nagle could confirm that.Fire danger in the area was considered extreme, Nagle said.
Stern was going to go out to dinner, but the fire canceled those plans. She stood in the street, watching the smoke with her neighbors.To her, wildfires seemed more likely among West Vails beetled-killed trees, she said.You never think of it here, she said. This felt like the safe side of the valley.Laura Silverstein, who was hiking on the Berry Creek Road with her dogs, said she suspected the fire was caused by fireworks.Every Fourth of July scares me, she said.She said she saw a suspicious truck race down the Berry Creek Road around the same time she saw the fire.Jill Johnson of Edwards watched the flames with her daughter, Bryce, from near her home. The firefighters responded really quickly, she said.Were totally confident in all of the people here, she said. I just hope the wind works in their favor.As the smoke died down, Stern said she didnt feel completely out of danger.Ill feel like Im out of the woods when the snow comes in November. Or when we get a couple of days of rain, she said.According to the National Weather Service, there is only a slight chance of rain through Saturday.Firefighters will continue work on the scene today to try to contain it, Boyd said.The air tankers came from Grand Junction, Craig and Fort Collins, and they each dropped about 700 gallons of fire retardant, Boyd said.A small, quarter-acre fire also broke out about three miles west of Red Cliff on Tuesday afternoon, Boyd said.
Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 748-2929 or firstname.lastname@example.org.