Nothing alarming found in two local fire calls |

Nothing alarming found in two local fire calls

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – Two fire calls outside city limits on Tuesday served as eerie reminders that even with the wet spring weather, wildfire danger still exists.

The first call early Tuesday afternoon sent the Glenwood Springs Fire Department up South Canyon to respond to a report of coal smoke.

But rather than emanating from the coal seam that sparked last year’s disastrous wildfire, this fire was in a pile of coal slag.

The slag was left near the east side of South Canyon Road during the area’s mining days in the first half of the 20th Century.

“We put water on it. Nothing’s threatened because everything’s gone,” Glenwood Springs fire chief Mike Piper said, referring to the area burned by last year’s fire.

The pile of coal apparently began burning during the Coal Seam Fire in 2002 and continues to burn today, Piper said.

“It’s like charcoal briquettes,” he said.

It not only behaves like charcoal briquettes, it smells like them. The burning coal can be smelled from the road as drivers pass the smoldering pile.

Piper said it’s likely the water used to douse the fire evaporated quickly.

“It’s sort of like pouring water into a volcano,” he said.

Piper warned hikers in South Canyon to stay away from the torrid coal pile, because its surface temperature is 600 to 900 degrees.

“I don’t think it’s dangerous as far as fire spreading – there’s nothing to spread,” Piper said. “What we’re worried about now is lightning strikes.”

Not long after returning from South Canyon, the department was dispatched to a report of a lightning-sparked brush fire about six miles up Four Mile Road.

“There was a small fire, but by the time we got there it was smoldering,” Piper said.

Showers accompanied the lightning storm, keeping that small fire and any others down.

“The rain helped us to make sure other areas had lowered ignition temperatures,” he said. “But we want people to stay vigilant.”

Contact Greg Masse: 945-8515, ext. 511

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