Cause of Silt Mesa fire remains unknown |

Cause of Silt Mesa fire remains unknown

Dennis WebbGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

SILT Investigators have found a possible point of origin alongside Harvey Gap Road for a small wildfire that started Tuesday night.However, they have yet to find a cause for the fire, or for a larger one that claimed three vehicles and three small sheds Sunday night about a mile farther down Harvey Gap Road.Brit McLin, chief of the Burning Mountains Fire Department, said some department members have been patrolling the area to see if they can spot any suspicious activities and also act as a deterrent to would-be arsonists.However, there’s no clear indication that the two incidents were related. And it remains possible that both started accidentally, such as by vehicles that threw up sparks because of a flat trailer tire or dragging trailer chains.McLin has received reports from residents in the area this week of other vehicles dragging chains along the road since the fires.”So apparently it’s not an uncommon occurrence and the neighbors are not well-pleased by it,” he said.Vehicles pull boats along the road on the way to Harvey Gap Reservoir.McLin said arson often is easy to prove after a fire. Gasoline and other accelerants can be detected, and ignition sources such as cigarette butts and matches may remain only half-burned because fires typically spread away from the point of origin.In the case of the latest fire, however, the possible point of origin was in the center of the fire.The fire burned only a few acres. Sunday’s consumed more than 15 acres and had multiple ignition points along Harvey Gap Road.Even if the fires weren’t intentionally set, McLin said it would help if people were more careful, given the high fire danger. He said it’s common to see the glow of cigarettes being thrown from cars by commuters on Interstate 70 during their predawn trips up-valley.”It looks like fireworks with people flicking their cigarettes out the window,” he said.It’s as if they’re oblivious to the fire danger, he said.”It’s literally just careless, negligent behavior that we’ve got to find some way to address.”A series of small fires were also sparked by unknown causes one evening earlier this year along westbound Interstate 70 between New Castle and Silt.Contact Dennis Webb: 384-9119; dwebb@postindependent.comPost Independent, Glenwood Springs Colorado CO

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