North Routt Fire Protection District volunteer Doug Person uses a small booster line to control a grass fire burning near Clark on Tuesday.  The fire, which spread across five acres with the help of a gusty afternoon wind, burned ranch fields but did not threaten any lives or property.

Photo by Brian Ray

North Routt Fire Protection District volunteer Doug Person uses a small booster line to control a grass fire burning near Clark on Tuesday. The fire, which spread across five acres with the help of a gusty afternoon wind, burned ranch fields but did not threaten any lives or property.

Crews monitor N. Routt fire

Wind fans flames across 5 acres of land; no injuries reported

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North Routt firefighters are monitoring a grass fire that has burned about five acres near the Clark Store but so far has caused no injuries or property damage.

Firefighters were called to the scene at about 2 p.m. Tuesday, after a controlled burn got out of hand and began moving towards haystacks near Routt County Road 129 and Routt County Road 62.

"This is going to be great pasture come this spring," said Bob Reilley, chief of the North Routt Fire Protection District. "We're just here to help out the landowners and make sure it doesn't cross into areas they don't want."

Though the affected acreage remained relatively small, the flames kicked up a great deal of smoke from the burning grasses and willow trees along the bed of the Elk River.

Routt County Emergency Management Director Chuck Vale is one of the two landowners whose property was affected. A tenant of Vale's started the controlled burn on his land and the flames spread onto a neighbor's property.

Vale said crews were simply monitoring the fire - expected to burn out tonight - to prevent further damage, rather than actively trying to put the flames out.

"I'm not going to risk somebody's life over some brush," Vale said.

A light rain helped firefighters control the flames, but erratic wind Tuesday presented some challenges. Within the first hour after North Routt's volunteer fire crew arrived on the scene, the fire completely reversed direction and began heading north toward C.R. 62 and the nearby Clark substation.

Vale stressed that as long as the flames remained within the fire crew's control, the fire is actually good for agricultural land and will render it more fertile come springtime.

"Mother nature just wants to do this sometimes," Vale said.

To reach Melinda Dudley, call 871-4203 or e-mail mdudley@steamboatpilot.com

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