Firefighters douse blaze near Summit County Shooting Range

A helicopter twirls over a fire near the Summit County Shooting Range Sunday, April 11, 2021.
Photo from Sheriff Jaime FitzSimons.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated.

Firefighters were able to successfully douse a small fire that ignited near the Summit County Shooting Range Sunday afternoon.

Officials first received word of the blaze at about 12:07 p.m., according to Summit Fire & EMS spokesperson Steve Lipsher. Lipsher said the fire began right above the shooting range and ran up a hill into a group of trees. There were no injuries and no structures were threatened, Lipsher said. Officials haven’t determined what caused the fire.

The ignition represents Summit County’s first wildfire of the season.

“That whole south-facing hillside above the shooting range is already dry, and this is early for it to be dry,” Lipsher said. “Dry grasses and dry sage, which we call flashy fuels, are very susceptible to fire. Whether we’re talking above the shooting range, or any of our south-facing slopes, we’re seeing an earlier melt out and drying than is typical. All of that just makes us all the more concerned about the upcoming wildfire season.”

About 25 firefighters in total arrived on scene to combat the fire, including engine crews from Summit Fire & EMS, the U.S. Forest Service and the Red, White & Blue Fire Protection District. A helicopter also provided air support.

A helicopter fills up its bucket at Dillon Reservoir while helping to douse a fire near the Summit County Shooting Range Sunday, April 11, 2021.
Photo from Alyssa Hibbin

Lipsher said the group was initially hesitant to send firefighters into the weakened trees, noting a fear they could fall due to wind. But firefighters were ultimately able to get close enough with hose lines to engage the flames directly from a safe area.

“We drove right to the heel of the fire, and we could run hoses up the hillside,” Lipsher said. “We were able to use water from our engines there to sort of squirt out hot spots and keep the fire inside its original perimeter. Much of what was burning in terms of the area was open sagebrush. On the eastern flank of the fire there were some trees that, if it had gotten up in there, and had it been a super hot and windy day, it could have taken off and caused some more problems.”

The conditions cooperated enough for firefighters to douse the flames. As of Sunday afternoon, Lipsher said there were still some areas smoldering, but there were firefighters on scene to keep it from spreading any further.

“I think it’s a legitimate concern on everyone’s part that we are fully prepared as an emergency response agency to deal with these fires, but also that we get all of our residents and visitors on board with understanding the role they need to play to help us prevent fires from the get-go,” Lipsher said. “(People) should recognize that our fire danger may be elevated all year because we’ve had so little precipitation and we’re in a longer-term drought.”

The shooting range will remained closed until further notice.


Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

As a Summit Daily News reader, you make our work possible.

Summit Daily is embarking on a multiyear project to digitize its archives going back to 1989 and make them available to the public in partnership with the Colorado Historic Newspapers Collection. The full project is expected to cost about $165,000. All donations made in 2023 will go directly toward this project.

Every contribution, no matter the size, will make a difference.