Barbara Lawlor, Nederland. Two Magnolia Road residents hiking down from the Front Range Trail Head, the Boy Scout trail, reached the bottom of the trail, just short of Magnolia Road where a wild land fire was being blown across a dry meadow by gusting winds.
The first man, Jeff, said he had noticed a dark-colored older model Ford Explorer camped alongside the road for the previous few days, the driver sleeping in his vehicle. As the hiker approached the fire, the Explorer left in a hurry, the driver taking his dog, but leaving a pile of personal belongings, including a full fire extinguisher.
A pile of dog chew bones, a water dish, a towel and a small overturned grill were left behind, the embers spilling across the duff, the crispy dried long grass and crunchy aspen leaves, were clues as to what happened. The barbecue containing glowing charcoal was blown or knocked over and the dry grasses were like tinder, flames spreading rapidly.
Jeff called 911 and then he and the other hiker went to work creating a line at the perimeter of the fire, managing to halt the wind-driven flames. They used hand fire extinguishers and stomped the flames out. Within minutes, Timberline Fire Protection District and United States Forest Service firefighters arrived with big tankers and hoses and drenched the area.
It was a close call.
Wildfires are this winter’s great danger as warm temperatures and no snow to speak of have turned the mountains into an inferno waiting to happen, a wildfire easily and accidentally caused by humans.
The camper had Texas license plates, and a German shepherd mix dog. The man was tall and thin, around 50 years old, and his hair was dark gray.
Residents say he camped here frequently over the summer and fall. Anyone with any information can notify the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office, 303-441-4444.
(Originally published in the print edition of The Mountain-Ear on December 21, 2017.)