Two more Man-caused Fires on the White River National Forest

Contacts:   Bill Kight, 970-948-1894 (cell);


Grand Junction, Colo. ( Oct. 17, 2012 ) – A fire season that started in late March on the forest, first with the Montezuma Fire in Summit County, doesn’t seem to have an end. But these late Fall fires are not due to lightning as most fires are on the unit during the summer months. They are entirely due to human carelessness.

The Lily Pad Fire on the Aspen-Sopris Ranger District was reported yesterday and was limited to two spruce trees. It began near Lily Pad Lake up the Frying Pan Drainage some nine miles southeast of Thomasville. “Someone built a fire ring on top of thick duff which ended up burning down about two feet through the needles,” said Josh Graham, Assistant Fire Management Officer for the Central Zone of the Upper Colorado Interagency Fire Management Unit. “After the rock ring collapsed inward the fire spread onto the Spruce Fir it was built under. What were they thinking?”

The 10 acre South Falls Fire was also reported yesterday and is located on the Blanco Ranger District in the Flat Tops Wilderness some 2 miles west of Budges Resort on the South Fork of the White River and 18 miles due north of Glenwood Springs. As of noon today it is 70% contained. It is burning near heavy spruce-fir and with high winds could have easily resulted in a 200 acre fire.

District Ranger Ken Coffin urged hunters using the forest to be extra careful with their fires. “Make sure you build a fire in a safe place by clearing the whole area of all vegetation even up to two feet outside the fire ring. And hunters please make sure your fire is dead out. This means all remaining ashes should be cold to the touch whenever you leave camp.”

The 257 acre Middle Elk Fire near Hiner Springs some 30 miles north of New Castle  was also human caused. That area was closed to all entry until yesterday. That closure was lifted by special order of Forest Supervisor Scott Fitzwilliams. Fitzwilliams said, “People who abandon their campfires are subject to a $5,000 fine. And if it escapes and starts a wildfire they can count on paying the full cost of suppression. In the case of the Middle Elk Fire that figure is close to half a million dollars.”

Last week’s Red Cliff  Fire on the Eagle-Holy Cross Ranger District was within a mile of the town of Redcliff. It too was human caused.


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