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Ditch fire gets away

Smoke from an out-of-control ditch fire billowed into the sky south of Carbondale Friday, the fifth such fire in as many days.

The fire swept across a field, burned through a grove of cottonwood trees on the Sewell Ranch and rushed up a gully near Thompson Creek.

Firefighters from the Carbondale and Rural Fire Protection District were called around 1:15 p.m. when residents of the Sewell Ranch, about five miles south of Carbondale and west of Highway133, saw that the ditch fire jumped its banks.



“I think we’ve got good fire breaks,” deputy fire chief Rob Goodwin said at around 2:30 p.m. “The wind was going hard before,” Goodwin said, blaming gusts of wind for pushing the fire along.

Friday marked the fifth day fire crews were out battling conflagrations, Goodwin said.



“So far it’s been pretty dry,” he said, adding that the relative humidity was just 14 percent. “That’s very dry for the beginning of April.”

At the fire’s peak, flames shot 30 to 40 feet into the air, Goodwin said.

“It was crowning for about 20 minutes or so,” he said.

One of the residents of the ranch, Jason Sewell, described what went through his mind when he first saw the flames.

“We just looked out the window and we were like, `Whoa,'” he said.

Another resident of the ranch, Jennifer Giancola, said she and Sewell ran out of the house and grabbed a hose to fight the flames.

“It moved fast and we thought it was going to get to the barn and horse pasture, but once they got here, they got it under control,” Giancola said of the firefighters.

Firefighters from Basalt, Glenwood Springs and the U.S. Forest Service assisted the Carbondale units in battling the blaze. A Pitkin County Sheriff’s deputy also helped.

At 2:40 p.m., Goodwin declared the fire under control, but said it still needed to be looked after.

“The fire will need to be watched through the night and into tomorrow,” Goodwin told Sewell and Giancola.


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