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Sep 8, 2013 9:10 PM by Tony Spehar -

Weekend fires under investigation

Two fires this weekend, one in Fox Run Regional Park and one nearby, are under investigation by fire fighters and the El Paso County Sheriff's Office.

The first fire happened on Saturday afternoon in the park, the second was sparked at around 2 p.m. on Sunday on Happy Landing Drive.

"We saw it burning when we came down the hill, my wife noticed it as we were getting ready to leave," described Daren Palmer, who lives on Happy Landing Dr. "We saw the smoke, it was 'like oh my gosh, it's in our neighborhood.'"

Fresh in the minds of Palmer and his neighbors was the Black Forest Fire, many of them voluntarily evacuated during the wildfire that took two lives and destroyed nearly 500 homes.

"I thought our house was gone to be honest with you," Palmer said of the Black Forest Fire. "It's fully treed here, it could go up like tinder."

Thankfully fire fighters from the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District were able to get on scene withing minutes and put out the fire. Less than a tenth-of-an-acre was burned.

"I don't know what this deal is all about, it's scary as heck," Palmer said. "Just thankful that we had some moisture over the last two months or so."

But, fire fighters on scene said nobody should be counting on the wet summer to have eliminated the danger of wildfires.

"Fire conditions do not take long to go back to being high and in to the extreme," explained Lt. Mike Keough. "The lightweight fuels are very receptive to warmer dryer weather and it doesn't take very long for that rain to kind of cancel out."

The causes of both fires over the weekend are under investigation. Fire crews are particularly concerned about the fires because the causes were not immediately apparent and happened in the same area that at least three suspected arson fires were sparked in July. In addition, investigators are still looking into how the Black Forest Fire starter and believe it was human caused.

"We have enough trouble taking care of what nature does for us," Lt. Keough said. "We would hope that there's not somebody intentionally starting fires, but that does unfortunately happen sometimes."

Fire fighters are urging caution and continued fire mitigation work because when it comes to the danger of wildfire Southern Colorado is not out of the woods yet.

"It needs to be thinned out a little bit, but we've only lived here 11-months so it takes some time to do some of that," Daren Palmer said of the woods around Happy Landing Dr.

Anyone with information about this weekend's fires or the suspected arsons in July is asked to call the El Paso County Sheriff's Office at 719-290-5555.



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