Fireworks could have caused Wednesday’s wildland fire in Edwards | SummitDaily.com

Fireworks could have caused Wednesday’s wildland fire in Edwards

Randy Wyrick
rwyrick@vaildaily.com

STATE BRIDGE — A fire burning dead and downed timber is 3 percent contained, the Forest Service said Friday.

More than 175 firefighters are battling the Gutzler fire, which grew to more than 1,000 acres Thursday, the Forest Service said in a press release. The fire is burning mostly on Forest Service land 9 miles east of State Bridge and 14 miles west of Kremmling, in a remote area of Eagle County.

It's surrounded by steep, rugged and rocky terrain, said Aaron Mayville, U.S. Forest Service district ranger.

"Fire crews have been using natural barriers such as meadows and cliffs to connect fireline on the southwest edge of the fire," Mayville said. "Having both hand crews digging fireline along with air operations dropping water to tame the flames is helping slow the fire growth and gain some containment."

Erratic winds are not helping firefighters, and neither are above-average temperatures, dry thunderstorms and dry fuels. The fire may continue to grow as firefighters use indirect suppression, Mayville said.

"Yesterday the fire slowed as it moved to the contingency line and reduced the smoke seen in the valley," Mayville said.

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More fire restrictions

The Forest Service, BLM and Eagle County Sheriff James van Beek ordered Stage 1 fire restrictions Thursday.

Vail issued its own fire restriction Friday, limiting activities that involve the use of open flames or generate sparks.

Outdoor fireplaces that have a spark arrestor are permitted in Vail, but only if:

• The outdoor fireplace is not within 15 feet of the structure or any combustible materials

• The fire is constantly attended by an adult

• There is a fire extinguisher or charged garden hose adjacent to the outdoor fireplace

Bonfires, open burning for the disposal of vegetation or refuse and campfires are always prohibited in Vail, the town's announcement said.

"We ask the public to follow the relatively minor fire restrictions to help prevent starting human caused wildfires that are known to be high risk, specifically smoking and campfires that can take additional fire personnel and resources," said Marcia Gilles, Gutzler fire public information officer.

Fireworks may have caused Edwards blaze

Fireworks may have sparked a small blaze in Edwards on Thursday, said the Eagle County Sheriff's Office, hours after local and federal officials issued their fire restriction orders.

The fire might have been caused by a group of unidentified teenagers lighting fireworks in the area. The teens were spotted by several citizens, the Sheriff's Office said.

Firefighters jumped on the fire moments after it was reported, and were able to knock it down as it grew to a half acre, said Tracy LeClair, public information officer with the Eagle River Fire Protection District.

This incident is under investigation, said Jesse Mosher, the Sheriff's Office public information officer. The suspects could face arson or reckless endangerment charges, and could be ordered to pay for all fire suppression expenses, Mosher said.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and rwyrick@vaildaily.com.

What fire restrictions mean

Because it has been so hot, dry and windy for so long, Eagle County is under Stage 1 fire restrictions. That means:

• Campfires are only allowed within designated fire grates in developed campgrounds (metal, in-ground containment structure; fire pans and rock campfire rings are not acceptable).

• No fires of any type, including charcoal, outside of developed areas.

• No smoking except within an enclosed vehicle or building, a developed recreation site or in a barren area free of vegetation.

• No use of explosive materials, including explosive targets.

• No welding or operation of an acetylene or other similar torch with open flame, or any other spark-producing device, except from an area that has been cleared of vegetation.

• No operation of any internal combustion engine without a spark-arresting device properly installed and in working order.

• Fireworks are always prohibited on Bureau of Land Management, National Forest and National Park Service lands.

If you violate federal fire restrictions, then you could be fined up to $100,000 and a year in prison. If you start a wildfire, then you could be ordered to pay the cost of fire suppression.

Source: Eagle County Sheriff’s Office