South Routt A May fire that burned about 90 acres of land on Lynx Pass has proved to be the largest and most expensive blaze ever fought in Routt County, the county's emergency management director said.
Chuck Vale is adding up the numbers but, with a few bills still uncertain, already has attributed a preliminary cost of $38,000 to the Lynx Pass blaze. He still needs to get the figures from the Routt County Sheriff's Office and the Oak Creek Fire District. The final figure will be about $40,000.
Vale estimated that Routt County will pick up about $26,000 of that bill. The rest will be distributed among the other entities involved in the firefighting effort.
All fire districts in Routt County responded to the fire, which burned for several days and produced flames 60 feet above the trees.
Taxpayer dollars will be used to pay the bills, and Vale said there could be a lesson in that.
"I keep saying, it's either mitigate or respond to the fire," he said.
The more time and money that are spent in fire prevention efforts, he said, the more will be saved when it comes to fighting fires.
"The taxpayers are going to pay for it one way or another, so what is your choice?" Vale asked rhetorically.
Meanwhile, the Routt County Sheriff's Office is still trying to determine who started the fire.
Investigator Rachelle Redmond is in charge of the search for the fire starter. Calls to the sheriff's office seeking comment went unreturned Friday.
"Nothing new has come up," Vale said. "It's still under investigation."
Initially, investigators identified deposits that appeared to be from an intentionally-started brush fire. Those deposits were found on land owned by Eugene Germain; the land is suspected to be where the fire originated. However, no one has stepped up to admit that he or she started the expensive wildfire. That person could face financial and criminal liability.
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