DENVER – The 117 Fire, which burned 23 homes to the ground in El Paso and Pueblo counties, was human-caused, officials revealed Saturday.
An official with the Rocky Mountain Area Type 2 Incident Management Team told Denver7 that while the cause of the fire is now known, the method of ignition – an unattended camp fire, a cigarette butt that was thrown from a moving car, for example – was “undetermined” at this time.
Officials said Friday’s rain helped firefighters with the blaze but warned they’re not done – firefighters will continue to patrol and monitor the fire area to avoid any flare ups.
They also urged residents to use caution when returning to their homes as several hazards may be present, including white ash on the ground which may “indicate deep pockets where roots and vegetation have burned and may be continuing to burn below grown level.”
They also warned about shallow root systems that could cause standing dead trees to fall down.
Smoke and blowing ash will be visible for some time, officials also said, warning residents to avoid directly inhaling smoke from smoldering areas as it may contain plastic or other materials that produce toxic smoke.
The fire, which was reported on the plains southeast of Fountain, started on Tuesday and exploded in size as strong winds fanned the flames.
The fire, which grew to 41,000 acres in size, destroyed 23 homes. No other injuries were reported.