TELLER COUNTY — An unattended campfire that prompted mandatory evacuations on Sunday night burned three acres along County Road 89 in Teller County.
The Teller County Sheriff's Office says a man was camping just before 5 p.m. southwest of Cripple Creek. He left the fire burning in the fire pit to run to his car for something. That's when the strong winds pushed the flames outside of the pit, sparking the grass fire. The man tried putting out the fire, but ended up calling 911.
"We had an unattended campfire get out of its containment, and pushed by 40 to 45 mph winds," said Joe O'Conor, Cripple Creek Fire Department.
Chief O'Conor says crews were mopping up until 9 p.m. then the following morning.
"We're out at first light this morning to make sure this doesn't spread with the high winds this afternoon," said O'Conor.
The impacted homes area lies along the 600-720 block of CR 89 southwest of Cripple Creek. That stretch of road is sparsely populated with a few smaller homes in the rural area.
According to the Teller County Sheriff's Office 20 people were evacuated from the area as crews worked to gain control of the fire that burned 3 acres of land. No homes or structures were lost. More importantly, no one was injured.
"We've had the Hayman, Waldo Canyon, and Chateau Fire. All of these normally result in people being careless and ending up paying the consequences. It can be millions of dollars and lives lost," said Lad Sullivan, Teller County Sheriff's Office.
Sullivan says its important the community stays vigilant in dry, windy conditions.
"Be careful, don't throw your cigarettes out of your vehicle, make sure your fire is extinguished. Now you're not allowed to have fires, we're expecting 100 mph winds so its a very dangerous and dry time," said Sullivan.
"No campfires, no charcoal grills just propane, and really contained outside because of the risk of sparks and igniting really dry material," said O'Conor.
The sheriff's office says they don't plan to charge the man responsible for the fire since he called 911 immediately.
Stage 1 fire Restrictions are in effect, and if you're caught burning, you could face up to a $1,000 fine.
A Red Flag Warning is in effect until 8pm to include Pueblo,, the San Luis Valley, Fremont County, Teller County, El Paso County, eastern Huerfano County, central and eastern Las Animas County, Otero County, Kiowa County, Crowley County, and Bent County. Humidity will drop below 10% and winds will gust frequently 30-40 mph, and as high as 55 mph.
Want to sign up for emergency alerts in El Paso and Teller counties? To sign up for the Peak Alerts system visit https://elpasoteller911.org/246/Peak-Alerts or for more information call (719) 785-1900. If you have questions you can also email firstname.lastname@example.org
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