Investigators think fireworks caused Hayden wildfire

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— The Routt County Sheriff’s Office thinks fireworks started the Aug. 17 wildfire in Hayden that burned 1,225 acres.

Undersheriff Ray Birch wrote in an email Wednesday that the incident still is under investigation, but they are viewing it as a felony arson case.

The fire was called in by a person who said it started in the grass along Routt County Road 76 about two miles from Hayden. Within 20 meters of the origin of the fire, Birch said investigators found three spent Roman candle fireworks.

Anyone with information about the fire is asked to call Detective Tom Munden at 970-870-5503. People also can call Routt County Crime Stoppers at 970-870-6226. Callers can remain anonymous.

Several structures and homes were threatened but none were damaged in the fire that quickly burned through grass and brush.

North Routt, Oak Creek, Yampa, Craig and Bureau of Land Management firefighters came to help in addition to an official from the Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control. Two aircraft were brought in to drop retardant, and another was assigned to monitor the fire, which was the largest Routt County has seen in several years.

Routt County is responsible for paying to fight wildfires, and it will be reimbursing some of the agencies for their help. Routt County Emergency Management Director Bob Struble said the cost estimate for the aerial support is $28,000, but the cost of the first retardant drop should be reimbursed by the state. Struble estimated the other Routt County fire departments will charge a total of $10,000 to $15,000.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247 or email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com

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