Wild land fire in south Gilpin back country ignites 2013 fire season

“Just a little one,” says Central City Fire Chief

By Lynn Volkens

The 2013 wild land fire season has already begun in Gilpin County. At 7:20 Tuesday evening, January 22, 2013, a wild land fire was reported on the ridge between Central City Parkway and south Highway 119 (approximately mile marker 3). It is believed that the fire was sparked by a hunter’s or hiker’s cook fire. Central City Fire Chief Gary Allen said he was reluctant to risk anyone’s safety by putting firefighters into the “nasty terrain” after dark on Tuesday night, so he enlisted the aid of the Flight for Life helicopter to do a flyover of the area and the information he needed in determining how to attack the fire. Keeping firefighter safety as a priority, Allen decided to attack the fire on Wednesday morning.

Located about two miles from the lower Lake Gulch area, the terrain in that area proved to be so rugged, that it took an hour and forty-five minutes for firefighters to hike into the area, Allen reported. Personnel from Central City Fire Department, Gilpin County Sheriff’s Office, Clear Creek Fire Department, Clear Creek Sheriff’s Office and Timberline Fire Protection District, fifteen firefighters in all, responded. Allen said firefighters were able to contain the fire by 3 p.m. Wednesday, keeping it to about one quarter of an acre in area. “We watched from a distance on Thursday,” Allen said. There was no further flare-up. He and firefighter Phil Headrick walked back in to the fire scene on Friday, to check for hot spots, but found nothing of concern. With little snowfall to date, the fire risk in the back country is high and this early fire just reinforces how very careful people must be to avoid igniting a wild fire.

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