Wind ignites burn piles Saturday in Keystone Gulch |

Wind ignites burn piles Saturday in Keystone Gulch

Flames did not reach ‘wildfire’ status, and US Forest Service personnel consider it under control.

Smoke from an unintended fire near Keystone Gulch is pictured Saturday, May 7, 2022. Wind caused the piles from a Thursday prescribed burn to reignite around 3 p.m. Saturday.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with the correct spelling of Summit County Sheriff Jaime FitzSimons’ name.

Winds kicked up flames in a prescribed burn area on the backside of Keystone Saturday.

U.S. Forest Service responded to the scene adjacent to Ruby Lift at Keystone Resort around 3:30 p.m. Fire engines sprayed water to cool down the fire, and U.S. Forest service personnel monitored the scene throughout the evening.

“We don’t consider this a wildfire,” Adam Bianchi of the Dillon Ranger District said.

The fire occurred in a 39-acre area prepped for prescribed burns. Piles of logs and jackstraw timber dotted the area. Smoldering logs and 1- to 2-foot-high flames and covered between 20 and 25 acres Saturday, Bianchi estimated.

Summit County Sheriff Jaime Fitzsimons said no structures were threatened by the blaze after his department warned residents of a “reported wildfire” in a post on social media around 3:30 p.m. Saturday.

Snow surrounded the burn area, Bianchi says, and the fire was never considered out of control. Rather, he said, it still fit within the expectations of a controlled burn.

Fire management teams had been burning piles in the weeks prior to reduce the amount of fuel that a wildfire could use as it burns. A controlled burn took place in the 39 acre area on Wednesday and Thursday, and Bianchi said Saturday’s high winds reignited the piles, causing fires to spread within the contained area.

Officials from Summit Fire & EMS, Summit County Sheriff’s Office, and U.S. Forest Service were all on scene by 4 p.m. to assist.

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