Shooting Range fire quickly contained (with video) |

Shooting Range fire quickly contained (with video)

Chief Tom Baumgarten of the Hot Sulphur Springs - Parshall Fire Protection District looks out over the Byers Canyon Shooting Range after firefighters from his department and others completed containment operations on Tuesday afternoon's fire at the range.
Lance Maggart / Sky-Hi News

A small wildland fire outbreak at the Byers Canyon Shooting Range was fully contained Tuesday afternoon shortly after it was reported with no injuries and no property damage resulting from the blaze.

The fire was sparked shortly before 1:44 p.m. Aug. 22 and is believed to be the result of a tracer round fired by citizens engaging in target practice at the shooting range. The fire itself burned up the grass and sagebrush-covered hillsides just north of the 200-meter range targets near the center of the facility.

The fire, which reached a size of roughly one-acre, was divided between two burn areas separated by roughly 100 yards of unburned hillside. Local firefighters quickly descended on the scene and had the fire 100 percent contained before 3:30 p.m.

Tom Baumgarten, chief of the Hot Sulphur Springs-Parshall Fire Protection District, said several factors played a major part in the quick dousing of the blaze.

“The wind kind of died down at the right time for us today,” he said. “That allowed us to get a handle on this quick.”

Baumgarten also highlighted two new fire engines recently purchased by his department as factors in the quick response, specifically referring to a wildland-urban interface engine and a type-six engine.

“Now we have some equipment that can handle this type of situation a little bit better than we have in years past,” he said. “It allowed us to get into some of those off road places and into some of the black areas where we can pump and do some real good.”

Baumgarten also commended Colorado Parks and Wildlife, which owns the range, and Grand County for the installation of an access road on the north side of the shooting range.

“The road was fantastic for us to be able to access these areas,” Baumgarten added. “This is what it was put in for, to be able to create breaks and allow us to access those breaks.”

A Texas couple at the scene said they believed they had inadvertently started the fire while shooting targets with a rifle.

According to the couple, who declined to provide their names to Sky-Hi News, they were shooting 5.56 mm rounds when they noticed the smell of smoke. The couple then scanned the hillside and noticed a small fire, roughly 10 feet by 10 feet, burning almost directly north from their firing lane.

The couple reported the fire to authorities, who were speaking to the pair as firefighters concluded mop up operations. Authorities at the scene said they believe the fire was started by a tracer round.

The Byers Canyon Shooting Range has a long history of wildland fire outbreaks. A major fire was sparked by shooters at the range in 2015 that threatened the town of Hot Sulphur Springs and was eventually contained after a multi-day effort. Multiple fires occurred at the range in 2012 and another significant fire outbreak occurred in 2010.

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