Haying machine spark cause of fire | PostIndependent.com

Haying machine spark cause of fire

DRY PARK – The wildfire here started Tuesday when a spark from a hay baling machine ignited the hayfield, Glenwood Springs fire chief Mike Piper said Thursday.

The fire was 60 percent contained Thursday afternoon, grew by only 30 acres since Tuesday, reaching a total of 80 acres by Friday afternoon.

“A guy was haying in the field. The swather hit a rock and sparked and caught the hayfield on fire,” Piper said.

He credited the Carbondale and Rural Fire Protection District with saving a house that sits next to the hayfield.

Around 40 firefighters were working the fire Thursday from the Glenwood Springs Fire Department, Carbondale and Rural Fire Protection District and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management Gunnison River Basin hand crew.

The fire’s growth was limited to fingers of flame burning down the Four Mile side of the ridge, just west of Dry Park. According to one firefighter, those fingers reached about 300 yards down the hill on that western ridge.

“It’s 60 percent contained, meaning that if the wind kicked up it could flare up,” Piper said. “There’s still a lot of heat at those rocks.”

A helicopter, sent by the Upper Colorado River Interagency Fire Center in Rifle, sat in a nearby field. Its engine was off, but the pilot was ready for action.

“Right now we’re going to hang on to him a little longer,” Piper said.

He planned to make a decision on whether to release the helicopter – which made water drops on Tuesday and Wednesday – from service.

No buildings were immediately threatened Thursday, but fire crews were mindful of a nearby equestrian center and a few outbuildings close to the smoldering fire.

“It’s extremely dry, and we hope people pay attention to the conditions out there,” Piper said. “There is a burn ban on in Garfield County for a reason.

“Obviously this is an excellent example of how dry it is, when a haying machine strikes a rock and starts a fire,” he said.

Eagle County officials apparently agree with Piper’s assessment, imposing a fire ban that began at 12 a.m. Friday.

“With the fire danger remaining high to extreme in our communities, the concerns of the fire districts and chiefs are that any fire in these conditions could jeopardize lives,” an Eagle County Sheriff’s Office news release stated.

Contact Greg Masse: 945-8515, ext. 511


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