No structures damaged in Forest Lakes fire

Ryan Ehlers, a firefighter with Durango Fire & Rescue Authority, hoses down a burning tree stump after a fire broke out in the Forest Lakes subdivision north of Bayfield. Upper Pine Fire Protection District along with DFRA, Los Pinos Fire Protection District and the U.S. Forest Service, quickly contained the 1.3-acre blaze. Enlarge photo

JERRY McBRIDE/Durango Herald

Ryan Ehlers, a firefighter with Durango Fire & Rescue Authority, hoses down a burning tree stump after a fire broke out in the Forest Lakes subdivision north of Bayfield. Upper Pine Fire Protection District along with DFRA, Los Pinos Fire Protection District and the U.S. Forest Service, quickly contained the 1.3-acre blaze.

FOREST LAKES – It took firefighters about an hour to contain a fire that broke out at Forest Lakes subdivision near Bayfield shortly after noon on Tuesday.

The fire, which burned about 200 feet from a nearby home, did not damage any structures.

“It was small, but it had a lot potential due to the structure of the subdivision, given that it’s a big wildlife-urban interface – where the woods meet where people live,” said Tom Aurnhammer, deputy chief of the Los Pinos Fire Protection District in Ignacio. “And it’s 15 percent humidity. In this weather, almost anything can start a fire, and they spread rapidly.”

Randy Larson, deputy chief of operations of Upper Pine River Fire Protection District, said at its largest, the fire engulfed 1.3 acres.

“When we arrived, the wind was blowing toward the homes,” Larson said, and had its direction not changed, they might have ordered an evacuation.

There are about 700 homes in Forest Lakes.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation. Larson said law enforcement had a “pretty firm idea” what started the fire, but would not disclose it.

Several firefighters were under the impression that the fire began after a child’s “rocket-launching” experiment went awry.

Larson said residents should be especially vigilant about fire safety.

“We’re close to declaring a Stage 1 Burn Ban. Cigarettes, open fires, lightning – virtually anything can start a fire in these conditions, and they’ll spread incredibly fast. This one got very close to the building,” he said.

Residents were shaken by the fire. Raya Harrison, 12, said she was baby-sitting three neighborhood children when she noticed the fire.

“I was scared, so I herded the kids inside,” she said.

Her mother, Cierra Harrison, whose house is nearest the scene of the fire, said she called 911 at 12:21 p.m., when she spotted smoke rising in the woods.

“Within a minute, the fire was 6 feet tall and 4 feet wide,” she said. “It’s wonderful to see how fast their response was. Just eight minutes – though at the time, it felt like an hour.”

Firefighting units from Upper Pine, Los Pinos, Durango Fire & Rescue Authority and the Colorado State Forest Service assisted. In all, about 25 firefighters were on the ground.

Firefighters on the ground drenched the fire with 10,000 gallons of water. Larson said a helicopter also dumped water on the fire about 10 times with 300-gallon buckets.

Tom Harrison, Raya’s father, said authorities had done “a great job.”

“I rushed home from work. There were already eight fire trucks at the bottom of the drive, and who knows how many pickup trucks,” he said.

Larson expected the fire to be fully out at some point today. Three firefighters were on watch through Tuesday night.

cmcallister@durangoherald.com

JERRY McBRIDE/Durango Herald
A fire broke out behind this home in the Forest Lakes subdivision north of Bayfield on Tuesday early afternoon. Upper Pine Fire Protection District along with DFRA, Los Pinos Fire Protection District and the U.S. Forest Service, quickly contained the 1.3-acre fire. Enlarge photo

JERRY McBRIDE/Durango Herald A fire broke out behind this home in the Forest Lakes subdivision north of Bayfield on Tuesday early afternoon. Upper Pine Fire Protection District along with DFRA, Los Pinos Fire Protection District and the U.S. Forest Service, quickly contained the 1.3-acre fire.

JERRY McBRIDE/Durango Herald
Jake Niece, a firefighter with Durango Fire & Rescue Authority, hoses down hot spots after a fire broke out in the Forest Lakes subdivision north of Bayfield on Tuesday early afternoon. Upper Pine Fire Protection District along with DFRA, Los Pinos Fire Protection District and the U.S. Forest Service, quickly contained the 1.3-acre fire. Enlarge photo

JERRY McBRIDE/Durango Herald Jake Niece, a firefighter with Durango Fire & Rescue Authority, hoses down hot spots after a fire broke out in the Forest Lakes subdivision north of Bayfield on Tuesday early afternoon. Upper Pine Fire Protection District along with DFRA, Los Pinos Fire Protection District and the U.S. Forest Service, quickly contained the 1.3-acre fire.

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