Stagecoach With high winds and dry conditions, fire officials say a wildfire Friday easily could have turned into a large forest fire about 10 miles east of Stagecoach.
“With the high winds and the red flag warning, we threw everything we had at it,” Oak Creek Fire Chief Chuck Wisecup said.
The fire was contained Friday afternoon and had burned about three acres of vegetation and trees. The fire had gone through a stand of beetle-killed lodgepole pine trees, and firefighters were not entering the area because they were worried about the trees falling.
“We don’t know what kind of jackpots might still be in the trees,” Wisecup said.
He said the fire started when a tree fell and brought down a power line near mile marker 11 on Routt County Road 16. The person who reported the fire said it was threatening houses.
Wisecup said downed trees across the road and the fallen power line initially prevented him and other firefighters from reaching the fire and the two nearby houses.
“It was urgent,” Wisecup said.
No structures were damaged, but flames came within about 400 yards of a home, Wisecup said.
The fire occurred on private and U.S. Forest Service land. Sustained winds of 23 mph were present at the fire and were accompanied by strong gusts.
More than 30 firefighters responded, as well as Routt County Emergency Management Director Bob Struble and Chuck Vale, with the Colorado Division of Emergency Management.
“It had the potential to get to be a very big complex fire,” Struble said. “For April 1 at this elevation, this is not normal.”
Oak Creek received help from Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue, Yampa Fire Protection District and North Routt Fire Protection District firefighters.
More firefighting resources arrived later from the U.S. Forest Service, Colorado State Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management.
With dry, warm and windy weather lately, fire officials have been on high alert for wildfires.
With Friday’s fire, Routt County now has seen at least 11 wildfires since March 15. Eight of those were caused by controlled burns that got out of control. There now have been two caused by power lines that came down during high winds. A second small wildfire Friday in North Routt County on Moon Hill Drive was caused by a fire in a fire pit that got out of control. It quickly was put out.