MANITOU SPRINGS, CO — There have been a lot of wildfires in Colorado over the past few weeks, growing very quickly because of dry conditions.
There was an important difference with the fire that closed Highway 24 along Manitou Springs during the evening commute earlier this week. A fast attack and shared resources stopped it while it was small.
Deputy Chief Keith Buckmiller was with the first firefighters who dispatched to the fire.
“When I turned the corner I had a column of smoke about 75 feet in the air and it was pushing," said Chief Buckmiller.
He was well aware of dry conditions, the wind was coming out of the canyon, and there was plenty of fuel for the fire to burn on the steep mountainside above the fire.
“We had 18 to 21 of our fighters show up and we were able to put some lines out both sides of it," said Chief Buckmiller.
There was also an immediate call for help from other fire agencies.
Springs Fire, El Paso County Wildland Fire, also a fire crew from Montana was near-by and added a truck full of water.
“Which was really quite beneficial,” said Buckmiller, “Getting us the ability to get it anchored, flanked and pinched.”
The fire started in grasses along the highway and then made it into a few Juniper trees. The steep mountainside above the fire was prime to burn.
Buckmiller said crews took advantage of a small break of rocks to go on the offensive with an aggressive attack to cut-off flames.
“I can tell you if that got past that break, it would’ve opened up into a whole lot more fuel and that fuel would’ve carried that fire over that ridge and we would’ve had another run," said Chief Buckmiller.
If not stopped, the direction of the fire had the potential to go toward more populated areas on the west side of Colorado Springs.
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