DOUGLAS COUNTY – There’s a familiar feeling for people living near Rainbow Falls, as a 17-acre fire continues to burn more than three weeks after it began.
The Rainbow Fire was deemed 100 percent contained Aug. 18. It’s burning 10 miles north of Woodland Park, close to the Hayman burn scar.
“Many of my neighbors lost their homes in the Hayman Fire, and they don’t want to live through that again,” Kathryn Voth, who lives near the fire, said.
Warning signs are still positioned along Highway 67 warning drivers that smoke may still be visible, but the smoke has homeowners, like Voth, worried about the potential a smoldering fire still has to become something larger.
“Smoke billowing up every day for the past three weeks; it’s stressful. We worry,” Voth said. “Wehn you go to bed at night, you worry are you going to get that reverse 911 call that says you need to evacuate because something has changed.”
The Rainbow Fire was caused by lightning Aug. 8 and didn’t directly put any structures at risk.
Firefighters contained it 10 days later, but conditions are now returning to dangerous levels in the high country, evident in the crunch of low-lying vegetation and increased fire activity.
“During high winds, it flares up considerably. Yesterday, it flared up to maybe 100 feet in the air, and at which point, we did not see any activity to put it out,” she said.
As the danger increases, Voth said she isn’t seeing firefighters there when the fire picks up.
The U.S. Forest Service did not respond to several requests for comment on this story.
Instead, in a blog posted Aug. 19, the Forest Service said it will not risk firefighters’ lives tending to small pockets inside the fire, because dead trees, or snags, pose a major hazard for their safety.
Fire officials are treating it as a controlled burn — one Voth said isn’t controlled at all.
“It’s just too dry. This is not the time of year to be allowing that kind of controlled burn, or even in this case, being treated as a control burn,” Voth said.