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MEEKER I A spark from a lightning strike may have lain dormant until high winds stirred an inferno Thursday afternoon as a quickly moving, wind-pushed fire scorched 130 acres of private land and one-tenth of an acre of BLM land on its way to some heavy property damage just off County Road 7.
At roughly 3 p.m. Thursday, a call was received at the dispatch center in Meeker that a grass fire had started at a location 3.5 miles north of Highway 64 on County Road 7, also known as the Strawberry or Wilson Creek Road.
In fairly rapid succession, three fire alarms in Meeker sent local Meeker Fire and Rescue firefighters to the residences of Onea Miller and Grant Rozier, whose homes are on the west side of County Road 7 by about a quarter mile.
When the firefighters arrived, they found a quick-moving wall of flames burning mostly grass lands with a few pinyon pines intermingled.
A request for help brought assistance from the Bureau of Land Management, the Colorado State Patrol, the state of Colorado, Rio Blanco County Road and Bridge, Colorado Parks and Wildlife and even the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office. The BLM also brought in a helicopter with a water drop bucket.
It was reported that the Miller and Rozier residences were saved thanks to some quick thinking and quick moving fire personnel, but that Rozier’s property was not so lucky.
The sheriff’s office reported in a press release Friday that four outbuildings and sheds were destroyed along with the contents of those buildings, which included vehicles and machinery.
The Craig Daily Press, in its Saturday Morning Press edition, reported that 12 vehicles were involved with the fire.
There were no injuries at either the Miller nor the Rozier residences although two firefighters received minor injuries.
One reportedly suffered a hand laceration and in the other incident a hose broke, sending the coupler into a firefighter’s knee. However, both firefighters were able to continue in their firefighting efforts.
Rio Blanco County Sheriff Anthony Mazzola was incident commander at the scene, which he described in part as “really crazy and scary.”
“The wind was blowing one direction, then it would blow another direction and the fire was moving in all directions at once,” he said. “It was tremendous to watch how the firefighters were able to maneuver so none of them got burned, or worse.
“The BLM helicopter’s drop bucket was a real godsend,” Mazzola said. “All of the agencies worked really well together and it was amazing that they all worked well enough together to stop the fire from spreading across County Road 7 and to get the fire 100 percent contained. It was a heck of a fire.”
Meeker Fire and Rescue and the BLM tended to hot spots and completed mop-up of the scene on Friday.