Ophir Mountain fire fully contained
FARMER’S KORNER – Firefighters fully contained the Ophir Mountain fire Wednesday evening, thanks in part to a shift in the weather earlier in the afternoon.”The weather has been great for us today with cooler temperatures, higher humidity, calmer winds and some precipitation,” said Red, White and Blue public information officer Lt. Mike Roll. “We didn’t get a lot of rain. It wasn’t a huge impact, but it certainly made it a lot easier today to get done what we wanted to accomplish.” Firefighters spent the day digging a small trench around the outside of the fire zone to create a buffer between vegetation and the charred area.Local and U.S. Forest Service investigators are still looking into the cause of the fire, although preliminary findings indicate the fire was human caused.
All that means, Roll said, is that investigators have determined a natural cause, such as lightning, did not trigger the sparks.”Whether it was intentional or an accident … if it was a transformer from an electrical line or something like that, we don’t know that yet,” Roll said. “All we know is that it was not natural causes.”A power outage was reported in the area about 20 minutes before the fire was called in.Roll said an electrical issue would be considered human caused. He is not aware of any squatters’ campsites near the fire area.
It could take weeks for investigators to nail down the conclusive cause of the fire, Roll said. In the meantime, investigators will be looking at burn patterns to pinpoint the exact spot where the fire started. From there, they can search for evidence that will lead them to the answer of how the flames ignited.Although the fire is under control, fire officials are asking people not to stray from the recreation path when traveling through the area because the area could still be dangerous.Nearby homeowners are also asking the public to avoid the area as part of the land is privately owned and part is owned by the Forest Service.About 30 Forest Service firefighters will remain on the scene today to continue monitoring the fire. The number will likely drop to about a dozen by the end of the week, Roll said.
Monday’s fire ignited about one-quarter of a mile above the high school just before 3 p.m. and quickly spread over the ridge toward Highway 9. Law enforcement agents evacuated the high school and up to 50 homes in the area, while firefighters tackled the fast-moving flames. They were able to save all five homes that were in imminent danger with the help of a slurry bomber that flew in from Grand Junction.Early estimates predicted the fire scorched about 12 to 15 acres, but GPS figures show the total acreage comes in at 16.14.Nicole Formosa can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 229, or at firstname.lastname@example.org
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