Discarded cigarette may have sparked fire in Rifle
RIFLE – Firefighters and emergency personnel battled a blaze that burned approximately 30 acres in north Rifle Tuesday evening, causing Highway 13 in the area to be shut down for more than two hours.A discarded cigarette butt thrown out along the highway about five miles north of the Rifle Fireside Lanes may have been the cause of the fire, although the incident is still under investigation, according to Rifle Fire Chief Mike Morgan.”It’s not suspected arson, but it is believed to be human-caused,” he said.The fire was reported to emergency dispatch at 5:10 p.m. and described as being the size of a car fire.”But when we got there, it was about one acre in size,” Morgan said. “The winds were blowing 10-15 miles per hour. All in all, it burned about 30 acres.”Two outbuildings – a three-sided lean-to and a garage with several vehicles – were lost. Two homes, which were unoccupied at the time, were saved.”It doesn’t get any closer to that without burning down a home,” Morgan said.There were no injuries reported, except a burn sustained by a firefighter to the elbow. Pets and horses were in the area, but were not harmed. Residents were not let back in until between 7:30 and 8 p.m. after the fire was contained, Morgan said.Highway 13 was shut down for more than an hour while air operations were conducted by two air tankers and the highway fully re-opened after about two and a half hours.The fire scene was cleared by the final fire truck at 10:50 p.m.Respondents to the fire included the Rifle Fire Protection District, Burning Mountains Fire Protection District, Grand Valley Fire Protection District, inter-agency emergency personnel, Grand Junction Air Center, Garfield County Sheriff’s Office, Garfield County Road and Bridge, Rio Blanco Sheriff’s Office, the Colorado State Patrol and the Colorado Department of Transportation.Currently, with the hot and dry weather, fire hazard conditions remain extremely high and citizens are being warned to be very careful.”We’re under red flag conditions today, ” Morgan said on Wednesday. “It’s bad out there right now.”
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