Ditch burn torches shed near Rifle | PostIndependent.com

Ditch burn torches shed near Rifle

John Gardner
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

RIFLE, Colorado – A ditch burning ended in a destroyed storage shed Sunday near Rifle.

According to Rifle Fire Protection District’s Fire Marshal Kevin Whelan, residents of the property located at 1318 County Road 294 were burning agriculture ditches when a nearby shed caught fire.

Whelan said that it was determined that the shed was ignited from fire that crept up a tree, which traveled up the inside of the tree’s bark. The tree was less than a foot from the structure.

Fire crews were able to extinguish the flames pretty quickly, and Whelan said that the residents had contacted the fire department prior to the burn and did have a garden hose ready if things got out of control.

Whelan said that this is the time of year for ditch burning, and this is a perfect example of just how quickly a situation can get out of control.

“Burning agriculture ditches is a part of life out here, and it’s necessary,” Whelan said. “But we encourage all to be safe. In this case, the owner thought the fire was out.”

Whelan said that fire crews were able to extinguish the fire fairly quickly and, more importantly, were able to save the house, which was about three feet away from the shed.

“[Fire] did damage the shed, but the guys did a good job of stopping it from spreading to the structure,” he said.

Whelan stressed the importance of contacting the local fire department for a permit before doing a burn of this nature. He said that burning should be done during the morning hours because the winds pick up in the afternoon. Also, any burning should be at least 50 feet away from any structures.

“That is our general rule,” Whelan said.

Fires should also be attended at all times and some form of fire extinguisher method should be present as well.

The fire department has had other calls regarding ditch burning this season already, but this has been the only structure loss so far.

Investigators determined that a house fire that occurred on April 7, south of Silt on County Road 346, was started by a cooking pan left on a hot stove burner.

According to Burning Mountains Fire Protection District Fire Chief Brit McLin, the structure was a modular home, with a frame-built addition connected to it. He said that the structure was a complete loss.

“Unfortunately, we were able to save about 80 percent of the structure, but in all honesty, there was enough smoke and heat damage to make it a complete loss.”


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