Quick response

The Southern Park County Fire Protection District dealt with this Aug. 21 lightning strike fire near the mica mine southeast of Guffey, as well as one other fire outbreak that same day, also caused by lightning. (Photo courtesy of the Southern Park County Fire Protection District/The Flume)

With a speedy response, the Southern Park County Fire Protection District kept two lightning strike fires near the mica mine southeast of Guffey contained to a small area without spreading Aug. 21.

Six SPCFPD personnel responded to a 911 dispatch for a plume of smoke near County Road 104 and the Fremont County line, according to Chief Eugene Farmer. When the fire crews arrived, they found a large standing lightning struck pine tree two thirds of the way up the slope above Forest Service Road 2572, near the mica mine, which they extinguished very quickly.

While hiking up to the fire, Farmer found a second, larger fire, which had grown to almost a half an acre, burning in brush, grass and scrub oak near the ridge.

Farmer was unsuccessful trying to get a line in front of the fire because of high winds, but the department’s Kubota side-by-side RTV was able to get to the fire and douse it out with water.

The Kubota was purchased last year from community donations for $16,000 raised in three weeks, according to Farmer. The trailer to haul it was donated by the fire department auxiliary. “The Kubota saved the day and was key in keeping this fire from getting away from us,” stated Farmer, “and possibly becoming a big fire heading into the Big Bear Ranch.”

Forest service and Bureau of Land Management crews arrived on scene about an hour later. SPCFPD turned fire command over to the BLM. 

What was unusual about this fire scene was that there were two separate lightning strikes a quarter of a mile apart, that’s rare, said Farmer.

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