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Abandoned campfire ignites wildfire


Fifteen firefighters and a heavy helicopter Tuesday stopped the spread of a wildfire ignited by an abandoned campfire about 11 miles southwest of Carbondale near South Thompson Creek.

“All lands in the White River National Forest are under fire restrictions, so the campers should not have even had a fire, let alone have left it unattended,” said Aspen-Sopris District Ranger Kevin Warner.

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“The restrictions are in place to minimize the risk to firefighters and allow first responders to focus on the COVID-19 pandemic,” Warner said. “Keeping the public and our employees safe from the virus and unwanted human-caused wildfires is our number one priority.”

The Parsnip Fire was discovered Monday afternoon. While it did not threaten any structures, it was burning in heavy dead and downed aspen where the helicopter was effective in minimizing the fire’s growth. Full containment is expected tonight.

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Current fire restrictions for the White River National Forest and all of Forest Service Region 2 prohibit campfires and charcoal fires of any type, as well as smoking outside of a building or vehicle.

“No one should be having a campfire in the White River National Forest right now, but this incident illustrates the importance of never abandoning a campfire unless it is completely out,” Warner said.

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The fire continues to be under investigation. In addition to potential fines and possible imprisonment, those found responsible for starting wildfires will also face restitution costs of suppressing the fire.

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