Two fires cropped up in the valley on Monday morning amid dry conditions. A series of five small spot fires burned along the highway in Garfield County and a building caught fire just outside of Basalt.
Officials were first alerted to spot fires on the side of I-70 near Newcastle around 7:30 a.m. Colorado River Fire Rescue responded and had the fires extinguished by 8:15 a.m. Crews found a piece of tire cord at each of the fire sites, leading them to conclude that the fires had been started by a blown out tire, hot from friction.
“People think because it’s cold out now, we’re not at risk,” said Maria Piña, a spokesperson for Colorado River Fire Rescue.” But things are really dry so we’re at really high risk still at this time.”
Meanwhile in Pitkin County near Basalt, Roaring Fork Fire Rescue was alerted to a structure fire. Shortly after 8 a.m., the department responded to an outbuilding on fire at the Guido Family Ranch and Colorado Tree Ranch on Two Rivers Road.
Roaring Fork Fire Rescue chief Scott Thompson said his team had to employ a “defensive attack” and take extra precautions because a substantial amount of ammunition was stored inside the burning building.
He added that ammunition in a burning building is not as dangerous as it would be in the barrel of a weapon, but that his crew still had to operate with caution and urgency to protect an adjacent building.
“I know that there’s been people hurt from it,” Thompson said. “But we take precautions because we still have to put the fire out, because we don’t want the fire to extend to the historic barn next door.”
Firefighters managed to save that historic barn by dousing it with water and mitigating fire in the nearest part of the outbuilding. The outbuilding and its contents were destroyed, but nobody was injured.