Tuesday, April 17
2:03 p.m. - The department was requested for mutual aid to a large fire east of Walsh, Colorado. This fire, which was soon named the Badger Hole Fire, started during an extremely windy day. Chief Pryor sent two trucks, under the command of Assistant Chief Gardner, to assist. Bent County’s Emergency Manager, R. Stwalley also responded as part of the fire command division. The fire started approximately two miles northwest of Walsh on Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. Over the three days it took to control the fire, it covered 17 miles in Colorado and 10 miles into Kansas. The fire consumed 48,000 acres the first day and another 2,800 acres on day two, with most of the acres in Kansas on day two.
The first day found the fire being pushed by the wind so fast that the crews could not get ahead of the fire. There were initial reports of firefighters and civilians being injured and treated by EMS or area hospitals. The first day the fire was fought by local agencies from Hasty/McClave, Las Animas, La Junta, Walsh, Vilas, Springfield, Pritchett, Prowers Rural, Holly, Wiley, Stanton County, KS and Grand County. KS. Las Animas, Hasty, Wiley and La Junta were tasked with stopping the head of the fire on day one as the fire moved through Colorado across the state line with the last truck from this attack called back into Colorado after they fought seven miles into Kansas. Wind on day one was reported with gusts blowing 78 miles an hour. Reports at times were that the fire was moving across the prairie at 40 miles per hour. The trucks were reporting back to the command center that the fire was moving faster than the trucks could drive. Firefighters from Las Animas, among other agencies, spent the night in Springfield.
Wednesday, Day two, found the Hasty/McClave, Las Animas, La Junta, Walsh, Vilas, Springfield, Pritchett, and Holly again fighting to control the fire. The wind was less but the area was so large it was very difficult to control the fire. At 6 a.m. the state sent in a Type 3 team to assume command of the fire. This action brought resources from all over Colorado to assist. Las Animas and Hasty crews returned to quarters Wednesday night after putting in a tremendous effort assisting our neighbors. The fire was declared 100% contained Saturday and taken over by Baca County.
In all, five firefighter were taken to the hospital for injuries sustained when trying to control the fire. Two firefighters stayed overnight. As of now there are four occupied residences lost in Colorado and five lost in Kansas. Also reported lost were five unoccupied residences in Colorado and four more lost in Kansas. Numerous out buildings, haystacks, grain elevators, miles of fence and equipment were lost. Southeast Colorado Power reported 250 power poles were lost. Additionally six railroad bridges and guardrails on almost every bridge on Hwy160 from Walsh to Kansas were damaged by fire. The cause of the fire is yet to be determined. Fire investigators from Colorado and Kansas are looking into it as it became a multi jurisdictional fire.
At 4:13 p.m. the department, under the command of Chief Pryor, responded to the overpass west of Las Animas for an overturned semi truck caused by high cross winds. The ambulance service under the command of EMT Devie responded as well. On scene it was determined the driver was okay and there was minimal fuel loss. Because the entire region was experiencing several accidents, the highway department pushed the truck off the roadway to allow traffic to resume. The truck was later removed. The department responded to many other wind driven calls over the next several hours.
Sunday, April 29
12:24 p.m. - The department, under the command of Assistant Chief Gardner, responded to a mutual aide call in Hasty for structure fire. The crew responded with two fire trucks and two water tenders to assist. The home was completely involved by the time the crew arrived on scene and the attack strategy on the fire was defensive, i.e., controlling the fire spread to other structures. It was reported the family was not at home when the fire started. Due to the day being hot with 80+ degree temperature, the crew members were rotated to keep them from becoming overheated. As the fire took over 3 hours to control, additional crews were requested. Crews from Wiley and Prowers Rural arrived to relieve the crews from Hasty and Las Animas. The fire was declared controlled at 4:30pm with the residence a total loss, and all mutual aid crews were released.
Sunday, May 6
10:52 a.m. - The department, under the command of Capitan D. Ramsey, responded to a pickup truck on fire at the residence near US 50 and CR7.5. The crew was able to get the fire out and return to quarters after 38 minutes. The truck was a total loss.
As an additional note, on April 17 a traffic accident near Rocky Ford caused by a distracted driver ended with a fire truck crash and then it rolled off the side of the road. The firefighters were injured and the truck was a total loss. Remember: be cautious and watch for emergency vehicles as you drive or walk.
LABCFPD-volunteers serving our community with pride.