ELBERT COUNTY, Colo. – Firefighters scrambled to protect six homes threatened by a rare winter brush fire in Elbert County’s Chaparral neighborhood Saturday afternoon.
Authorities asked four families to leave their homes.
“It’s certainly scary and unexpected this time of year,” said Andrea Torres, “It came really close to home.”
Mrs. Torres said she rushed home after getting a phone call from her son, Nathan, who was sitting on the back porch chatting with friends on social media, and getting ready to do his homework.
“I saw smoke, so I walked to the front door,” Nathan said. “That’s when I saw the flames coming over the ridge.”
The youngster said his adrenaline started racing and he immediately called his mom.
Fire crews from seven different departments rushed to the scene to battle the blaze, which consumed nearly 500 acres.
North Central Fire Chief Eric Rinehart said all the water had to be trucked in.
“In this district, there are no fire hydrants,” he said. “Another big challenge is the terrain. We have a lot of rough terrain. There were some places the trucks couldn’t go.”
Incident Commander T.J. Steck, of the Elizabeth Fire Protection District, said the flames spread quickly because of high winds.
“We don’t know how the fire started,” he said, “but we know generally where it started.”
He reminded residents that fire season is now year-round.
“Even though it’s February, we still need everybody to be cognizant of the fire danger,” he said, “and not to burn illegally or use recreational fires or whatever it may be that’s causing these fires. It’s important for everybody to really watch that.”
Steck told Denver7 that crews from North Central, Rattlesnake, Elizabeth, Byers, Agate, Kiowa and Met Com battled the blaze for several hours.
He said crews from North Central will remain in the area overnight, to make sure the containment area doesn’t flare up again.
The Torres family is grateful the brush fire was brought under control.
“We packed some necessities,” Andrea Torres said, “then we learned that the evacuation order had been lifted."
“I honestly thought (this would be) a perfect day to stay home,” Nathan Torres said. “So much for a relaxing homework day.”