Investigation determines weed-eater to be cause of Red Apple Fire |

Investigation determines weed-eater to be cause of Red Apple Fire

The Red Apple Fire was accidentally started by a weed-cutting device.Heat from the engine after it was placed on some dry weeds sparked the blaze while homeowners in the area were doing yard work, according to Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario.”It’s just unfortunate,” Vallario said. “The area is so dry that you could start a fire with a lawn mower.”Vallario said that area homeowners were working in their yard with a weed cutter, when one of them set it down for a moment. The heat from the device sparked the dry weeds in the area.”We found the origin (of the fire) right away,” Vallario said.The couple called the fire department and attempted to put out the flames themselves with a fire extinguisher that they had at their home, according to Vallario.The Sheriff’s Department has finished its investigation report and will send it to the District Attorney’s Office later this week.According to Vallario, the people weren’t being reckless when they started the fire, so he doesn’t believe that criminal charges will be filed. But, because of the magnitude of the fire and the destruction of property, the DA will review the report and determine if criminal charges are warranted, he added.The Sheriff’s Department is not releasing the names of the homeowners at this time.The fire started the afternoon of Thursday, Aug. 31, and burned 829 acres. One home and three outbuildings were destroyed. The fire was contained by Sunday afternoon.”We haven’t classified it controlled yet,” said Kevin Whelan, fire prevention officer for the Rifle Fire Protection District.There are still “little smokes” within the black area, according to Whelan, smoldering tree stumps still able to flare up. He anticipates this will continue until a good rain comes to the area.”It’s all dependent on the weather now,” he said.All fire crews have been pulled from the scene and no firefighters are currently patrolling the area. Whelan checks the area morning and night himself. He spends about an hour each time out, just checking the black area for flare-ups.Contact John Gardner: 945-8515, ext.

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