Cops suspect arson in Breckenridge wildfires
Summit Daily News
BRECKENRIDGE – Local authorities are investigating six small wildfires as arson, after pages of a book, matches and a can of highly flammable bug spray were discovered at two of the scenes.
The fires broke out close to one another on Peak 8 in Breckenridge along trails near the Breck Nordic center.
Firefighters from Red, White and Blue Fire District were able to contain an active blaze quickly Monday. A second fire had burned out when firefighters arrived. Authorities discovered additional ignition sites at nearby locations upon further investigation later in the day. No structures were damaged.
All fires were completely extinguished Tuesday morning.
Teams responded to the fire Monday afternoon after receiving a report of smoke in the area, but officials said the fires may have been set as early as Sunday and smoldered overnight.
“With as cool as it was Sunday night, it would definitely have allowed this to bank down and not be seen,” Red, White and Blue deputy chief Jay Nelson said. “We got lucky with the weather. We got lucky because of people spotting this and calling 911.”
Summit County is currently under a “very high” fire danger warning.
One fire burned a small area only a few feet across. An other was somewhat larger, and firefighters had to cut down four trees to prevent the blaze from spreading.
Pages of the same book – “Home to Holly Springs” – with the same burn pattern were discovered at two of the fire sites. Firefighters speculate Cutter’s insect repellent may have been used to create a blow-torch effect.
“It could be a juvenile playing with fire, somebody going around looking for attention,” Nelson said. “There could be a number of different reasons for this and we haven’t been able to pinpoint anything at this point. That’s part of the ongoing piece of the investigation, trying to narrow it down.”
Given the direction of the wind Monday and the placement of the pages of the book discovered at the scene, firefighters say it is more likely the fires were started separately than that one accidentally ignited from the embers of another.
The fires were contained just a few hundred yards from nearby houses and the Breckenridge Nordic Center.
Smoke plumes were spotted as far away as Carter Park on Monday afternoon.
Breckenridge police are asking the public to call with any relevant information.
“We’re looking for anyone that may have been in the area that may have smelled smoke,” detective Alex Blank said. “We’re trying to pin down a time frame.”
Anyone with information regarding the fires is asked to contact the Breckenridge Police Department at (970) 453-2941 or the Red, White and Blue Fire District at (970) 453-2474 or the Arson Information Hotline at (877) 892-7766 .
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