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June starts off with a roar

HUERFANO — The Four Mile Canyon Road fire that broke out Sunday, June 1 in the Black Hawk subdivision in southern Huerfano County was the first major wild land fire in the Spanish Peaks region this year. Incident Commander Capt. Paul Gomez of Huerfano County Fire Protection District told reporters Sunday evening that by this time last year, firefighters had already fought two similar fires that preceeded the large East Peak Fire of 2013. All resident evacuations in the affected areas of the subdivision, which sits close to the Huerfano / Las Animas county line, were lifted Monday evening and by 6 pm officials declared the fire was fully contained. The initial evacuation area was a one-mile radius of ignition and was increased to a four-mile area around the Four Mile Canyon / Cougar Trail area of the subdivision. Huerfano County Emergency Management initiated a CodeRed, reverse 911 announcement to approximately 78 households and evacuation was ordered for seven individual residences. Gomez said Tuesday no property was lost or damaged and

there were no injuries associated with the fire. The fire began in a pinon, ponderosa pine and oak brush forest area at an elevation of approximately 7,500 feet. Officials have not specifically determined the cause of the 39-acre fire, but have speculated it may have been caused by a lightning strike in the dry mountainous terrain. Residents in the area of Four Mile Canyon Road and Cougar Trail did say intermittent thunderstorms had moved through the area on Friday and Saturday. The first plumes of smoke were reported at 12:39 pm Sunday and firefighters based in Walsenburg were the first to respond. A number of mutual aid (fire protection district) agencies including La Veta, Upper Huerfano, Spanish Peaks / Bon Carbo, Stonewall, Hoehne, Purgatory and Trinidad City Fire Department, responded to the fire. Gomez said by Sunday night 58 firefighters were fighting the blaze, including the 20-man Juniper Team (type 2) which is made up of inmates from the Colorado Department of Corrections. “We have a very, very good working relationship with surrounding (fire) districts,” Gomez said. The Rye Fire Department was in place at HCFPD Station One in Walsenburg on Sunday to cover the city and the town of La Veta if necessary. Gomez said at one point, every available Huerfano County firefighter was working the Four Mile Canyon Road fire. The large number of fire apparatus included brush trucks, tenders, water tankers and ATVs and the fire was overflown once Sunday by a single engine air tanker that dropped at least one load of fire retardant on the blaze which was estimated to have grown to 15-acres by late afternoon. To find out more about fire mitigation projects, contact the county administrator’s office at 738-3485 or the land use department at 738-1220.