Suspect arrested in Gray Barn Fire |

Suspect arrested in Gray Barn Fire

Submitted photo by Dave McMurrayThe Gray Barn Fire near Rullison has burned around 150 acres since starting Tuesday night. The fire is suspected to have been started by a cigarette butt.

RULISON ” Garfield County Sheriff’s deputies arrested Nicholas Hatcher, 26, on fourth-degree arson after he allegedly discarded a lit cigarette that may have started the Gray Barn Fire Tuesday evening.

Hatcher allegedly flicked a lit cigarette into a barrel then left it unattended; a short time later Hatcher noticed the brush fire. After being arrested, it was discovered that Hatcher had four outstanding warrants, including two for driving under the influence. Hatcher’s bond has been set at $9,000.

The fire has burned 65 acres on private land, according to David Boyd, public affairs specialist with the Bureau of Land Management.

The fire was reported at 50 percent contained Wednesday morning. But, according to a press release from the Rifle Fire Protection District, additional crews would be assigned to the fire Wednesday morning to begin “final containment and extinguishment.”

Lee Rickard with the Upper Colorado Interagency Fire Management Center, who was assisting, said the area is being mapped and the fire seems to be 100 percent contained but he could not verify that figure.

The RFPD, Grand Valley Fire Protection District, along with Burning Mountain Fire Protection District and the Upper Colorado Interagency Fire Management Center jumped on the fire quickly, and managed to get a head start on containing the blaze according to Rickard.

Grand Valley Fire Protection District was dispatched to the area between county roads 320 and 309, just after 7 p.m. Tuesday, where a wildfire was burning 20 feet from a structure near Rulison.

Heavy winds and dry fuels on the steep hillsides complicated initial attack of the fire. Due to the fast moving fire, crews started back burns to help slow the fire Tuesday evening, according to reports.

Several structures and gas wells were threatened but no damages was sustained.

“We hit it hard last night,” Rickard said. “I would say that was the key.”

Rickard credited the Idaho City Hot Shots Fire crews, that were helping in the final stages of the New Castle Fire on Tuesday, for assisting with getting hold of the blaze.

Contact John Gardner: 384-9114

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