Black Forest fire burned to within feet of home

LANCE BENZEL and MATT STEINER Updated: March 17, 2011 at 12:00 am • Published: March 17, 2011

Firefighters in Black Forest doused a wind-driven blaze that burned down a barn and came within feet of a home amid red-flag weather conditions Thursday.

The fire broke out about 12:20 p.m. in the 12000 block of Holmes Road, blackening grassy fields near Black Forest and Shoup roads. The fire, which burned 5.3 acres, was contained by Thursday evening, according to Lt. Kathy Russell, spokeswoman for Black Forest Fire/Rescue.

Flames engulfed a barn but were stopped within feet of a nearby home at 12605 Holmes Road, authorities said.

“Our first arriving crews took care of that immediately,” said James Rackl of the Donald Wescott Fire Protection District.

The cause of the blaze northeast of Colorado Springs has not been determined, authorities said.

Rackl credited homeowner Linda Siebe for keeping grass trimmed during weather conditions ripe for wildfires. The fire blackened her yard and reached trees that ring the property, singeing the bark on their trunks.

Grass around the foundation was no more than a couple of inches high.

“If there had been long grass with that wind, there’s a good chance that houses would have caught fire,” Rackl said.

According to emergency radio traffic, flames were 4 feet high and spreading fast when the blaze was reported. Smoke could be seen up to 12 miles away. The fire burned a couple trees but never crowned, Russell said.

Wind gusted up to 35 mph, a formidable foe for crews fighting the fire. Those gusts, combined with high temperatures and low humidity, prompted the National Weather Service to issue a red-flag warning earlier Thursday. An alert predicted a likelihood for fires.

Crews or equipment from at least eight agency responded to the fire.

Siebe was visiting a family member at a hospital in Colorado Springs when a neighbor called to report the blaze had imperiled her home.

She was grateful to find it still standing when she arrived, she said.

“We’re so careful to keep our grass trimmed because it’s so dry,” she said.

Call the writer at 636-0366.

 

 

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