Brief Wildfire Near Willits Thursday Shows Fire Danger is Present Despite Wet Winter

Apr 26, 2019

A controlled fire near 749 Hooks Spur Road west of Willits went out of control briefly Thursday and burned about a half-acre of open space. Crews quickly extinguished the fire, and there were no injuries or damage to structures.

A prescribed burn near El Jebel Friday. This is not the fire that escaped a ditch west of Willits on Thursday.
Credit Mark Duggan

Longtime residents were burning undergrowth in a ditch, but a sudden change in winds caused the fire to jump out-of-bounds and start to spread. 

Pete Bradshaw with Roaring Fork Fire and Rescue says despite a relatively wet winter, and with snows just now melting in some areas, conditions are such that a fire can still spread quickly.

He cautions people against feeling that fire danger is low, despite conditions that are different than last year, when the Lake Christine Fire burned more than 12,000 acres in July following a dry winter.

"I think people are aware of what's going on," said Bradshaw. "Of course Lake Christine is in everybody's mind."

Thursday's fire also came at a time when Roaring Fork fire crews were also dealing with a ruptured gas line in a nearby mobile home park. Bradshaw admits that resources were "maxxed," but both the Carbondale & Rural Fire Protection and Aspen Ambulance stepped up to help with additional emergency calls.