Leadville/Lake County Fire-Rescue responded to one of Lake County’s first significant wildland fires of the season over Memorial Day weekend. The fire burned just over an acre of land near the Red Rooster boat ramp on the northern shore of Twin Lakes.
At approximately 2:52 p.m. on Friday, May 28, Leadville/Lake County Fire-Rescue (LLCFR) responded to the scene. A fire crew with the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) was already there and flames had grown to about 10 feet high.
Shortly thereafter, LLCFR moved its engine to Moache Road for a better angle in attacking the fire from the north. Lake County’s fire crew then used 900 feet of hose line to stretch to the scene. By 7:25 p.m., the fire was extinguished.
The cause of the fire is still being investigated by USFS, as the land surrounding Twin Lakes falls under federal jurisdiction. In a report issued by Friends of Twin Lakes, however, the fire was speculated to be man-made.
“This is more fire activity than we normally see this time of year,” said LLCFR Captain Dave McCann. “We anticipate this being an active fire season for us.”
During an interview with the Herald, McCann and LLCFR Chief Dan Dailey expressed concern with Lake County’s growing number of visitors and the lack of knowledge they may have about properly extinguishing campfires. In addition, Dailey said an increased amount of rainfall this spring will lead to the initial growth of fine fuels near the forest floor. Once dried, those grown fuels become accelerants for wildfires.
In preparation for more tourist traffic this summer and increased fuel loads throughout nearby forests, LLCFR’s staff underwent an annual wildland training program at the beginning of May. This year’s training proved especially relevant in addressing the Twin Lakes fire just weeks before flames sparked.
Each year, once the snow melts, LLCFR holds a three-day training program for all firefighters before fire season. Day one is usually held in a classroom, where firefighters train with wildland equipment and practice skills. Days two and three are spent in the field training with live two-acre fires. LLCFR practices scenarios in which crews have limited engine access to a scene and have to pull hose lines closer, just like LLCFR did in Twin Lakes.
“The training gives us the ability to address most of the fires that occur in Lake County,” said McCann, who added that the majority of fires that LLCFR responds to are only a few acres wide and are relatively manageable.
Nonetheless, Dailey said education on wildfire prevention is dire as fire season progresses in Lake County. “We need to get information to people who visit here,” said Daily. “Public education about fire safety and knowing how to do things like completely drown a campfire is so important.”