Barbara Lawlor, Nederland. It is the beginning of the mountain wildfire season. Recent weeks have blessed the area with frequent rain showers, moistening the surface of the ground for short periods of time, but underneath, the fall grasses and foliage are drying. With heated ground, windy days and the natural cycle of growing layers of duff, it doesn’t take much to spark a ground fire that spreads rapidly.
Last Friday, just past noon, the Nederland Fire Protection District received a report of smoke seen at the West Magnolia campground. All summer long the firefighters have been responding to similar reports of abandoned campfires and have put them out on almost a daily basis.
Campers have been calling in the fires and smoke sightings.
This time, when they arrived at the scene, they found flames spreading through the trees in a non-designated campsite. The firefighters began digging a line and stretching hoses to the sight, much of which had burned deep in the duff. Nederland resident Mike Smith took command of the incident.
Firefighters with the USFS and the Boulder County Fire Crew showed up to make sure the fire didn’t go anywhere. By the time it was out, the fire had burned .67 acre.
NFPD chief Rick Dirr says, “The ground had dried enough and there was enough sunlight and wind to allow the flames to spread. We are moving into the mountain fire season. Be careful. The pine needles are definitely dry and we were all a little tense. Being a mitigated area helped us contain the fire.”
(Originally published in the September 14, 2017 print edition of The Mountain-Ear.)