3 fires spark within an hour across Routt County as afternoon thunderstorm blows through | SteamboatToday.com

3 fires spark within an hour across Routt County as afternoon thunderstorm blows through

All three expected to be extinguished or fully contained by Sunday evening

Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue works on a group of five cottonwood trees that were struck by lightning Sunday afternoon off of County Road 179.
Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue/Courtesy

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — An afternoon squall kicked off three small fires in Routt County. All were under control by the evening.

Around 2 p.m., a thunderstorm with high winds, lightning and intermittent heavy rainfall blew through the county.

Lightning from the storm sparked a fire in oak brush on private land near Thorpe Mountain northeast of Oak Creek, said Routt County Emergency Operations Director David “Mo” DeMorat.

The fire grew to about 2 acres. Firefighters from the Oak Creek and Yampa fire protection districts and a U.S. Forest Service hand crew kept the flames contained.

No structures were threatened by the flames. A livestock trailer was staged in case a handful of livestock — about three horses and about three cows — needed to be moved away from the fire.

DeMorat said no flames were visible by 4 p.m. He expected the fire would be completely contained by Sunday night, though crews might continue to mop up hot spots on Monday.

A second fire sparked due to lightning around the same time near the gravel pits on Routt County Road 179 south of Milner, DeMorat said. The fire started in a group of five cottonwood trees. Steamboat Fire Rescue crews were initially concerned that high winds could spread the fire towards structures, but the weather calmed.

A third fire was sparked in a tree when a power line fell in the 10 block of Logan Avenue in Steamboat Springs. Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue firefighters and Yampa Valley Electric Association crews responded to the scene. That fire was out by 4:30 p.m.

DeMorat said that while no portion of the county is currently under fire restrictions, people should remain cautious with campfires and other fire hazards.

“If you’re going to have a campfire, make sure you’re mindful of the weather because if we have storms come through and a wind picks up, it can carry those embers quite a bit,” he said. “Obviously, like we’re seeing now, it’s starting to dry up enough that (fires) are starting to light off.”

To reach Eleanor Hasenbeck, call 970-871-4210, email ehasenbeck@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @elHasenbeck.

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