Vail, CO, Oct. 12--A 45-acre brush fire burned a hillside in West Vail and forced the evacuation of more than 100 residents Saturday. The fire started near a utility pole as gusty and dry winds quickly whipped the fire up the hillside and over Vail1's North Trail, a popular hiking and mountain biking trail.
More than 42 firefighters from Vail, Avon, Copper Mountain, Breckenridge and Keystone battled the fire. U.S. Forest Service crews were also called in from Steamboat Springs and South Dakota due to the fires close proximity to homes. Crews also brought in a Slurry Bomber and a helicopter with a 500-gallon water bucket.
"We had pumpers standing by to do structural protection if they needed to," said Bill Wood, district ranger for the White River National Forest. "The winds later died down and we didn't need that."
Residents, some of whom also witnessed a fire in the same area two years ago caused by fireworks, were allowed to return to their residences later in the afternoon after the fire swept up the hillside and away from homes.
The fire came less than 100 yards to a couple of homes. Witnesses reported hearing a popping sound coming from a utility pole on the hillside, and power outages, prior to the fire. Officials are focusing on that as the probable cause.
Crews remained on the scene Sunday and Monday putting out hot spots. On Monday, a fire also broke out above the town of Minturn, seven miles from the base of Vail Mountain. That fire, which started from a hunter's campfire, was quickly contained since crews were still in the area putting out hot spots from the West Vail fire.