Deputies arrest man for causing 15-acre brush fire near Rye

Posted at 1:29 PM, Jul 02, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-02 15:29:18-04

Pueblo County Sheriff’s deputies arrested a 23-year-old man after causing a brush fire that burned nearly 15 acres near Rye Sunday.

The sheriff’s office said Christopher Forell was welding when a spark caught some near brush on fire and quickly spread to two properties. Pueblo County is under Stage 2 Fire Restrictions which strictly prohibits the use of a welder outdoors unless in a 30-foot area that is clear of all flammables.

Deputies were dispatched to the area of 7300 Bondurant Road just before 5 p.m. Sunday on reports of an expanding brush fire. Upon arrival, deputies spoke with Forell, who admitted he was welding outdoors when he noticed the grass burning in the area he was working in.

He told deputies he tried to put out the fire but it spread quickly. The sheriff’s office said the blaze consumed grass, trees and brush on three different properties before it was extinguished.

A number of agencies assisted in the fire, with no structures damaged or injuries reported. Forrell has since been booked into the Pueblo County Jail.

“With the current extreme conditions that exist right now in this region, this could have evolved into a much larger fire with a very dire outcome had it not been for the quick response from our deputies and fire teams,” said Pueblo County Sheriff Kirk M. Taylor.

“I continue to stress the importance of obeying the current fire restrictions, which do not allow any open burning,” Taylor said. “The decision to impose these fire restrictions is not taken lightly, and with the extremely dry conditions and lack of moisture, it is important that everyone take these restrictions seriously. We cannot afford the outcomes that result from violating these restrictions.”

Stage 2 Fire Restrictions have been in place since June 25, with the following activities prohibited:

  • All open burning
  • The sale or use of fireworks
  • Outdoor smoking except within an enclosed vehicle or building
  • Operating or using an internal combustion engine is not permitted on public lands without a spark arresting device properly installed, maintained and in effective working order.
  • Welding or operating acetylene or other similar torch with open flame unless said work is performed in an area at least 30-feet in diameter and is clear of flammable vegetation.

Violators can be subject to an arrest or fines up to $1,000.