x
Breaking News
More () »

'This could have been very bad': Off-duty firefighter spots illegal fire at Jeffco Open Space park

The visitors were contacted by an off-duty firefighter but left before being contacted by park rangers, a spokesperson for Jeffco Open Space said.

JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colorado — Despite extreme dry conditions, an illegal fire was spotted in a Jefferson County Open Space (JCSO) park this week, but the suspected perpetrators left before rangers arrived, a spokesperson said.

A park ranger tweeted about the fire that was reported by a visitor to Mount Falcon Park about 8:15 p.m. Wednesday.

RELATED: Some suburbs in Denver metro area may be vulnerable to wildfires on high-risk days

No open fires of any type are permitted in any JCSO parks. Only liquid or gas-fueled grills or camp stoves are permitted in designated camping and picnic areas only.

"This could have been very bad," JCOS spokesperson Matt Robbins said. "JCOS does not allow any type of open fires in any of our parks and with the current fire danger this had the potential to get out of hand very quickly and spread fast."

Wednesday night, park rangers got the fire out cold by using a shovel to snuff it out with dirt and snow. The next morning, a follow-up team went and dosed it with water again to make sure it was cold to the touch and completely out, Robbins said.

In this incident, Robbins said, a couple of visitors from Florida were camping illegally in the park and started the fire. They were approached by an off-duty member of the Indian Hills Fire Department who reported their illegal activity.

The campers, however, packed up and fled before JCOS Park Rangers arrived, Robbins said. They did not make contact and were unable to issue a summons to them, according to a JCOS tweet.

The off-duty firefighter explained to the visitors that we were under a high danger and that advisories and warnings were in place.

RELATED: Extreme fire danger on Friday prompts counties to enact restrictions

Under the law, it is illegal on JCOS land to:

  • Burn any material
  • Start, light, maintain, leave unattended, or fail to completely extinguish any fire
  • Fail to extinguish and safely dispose of a cigarette or other smoking device
  • Violate the conditions of any imposed fire restrictions or fire ban
  • Possess, ignite or discharge fireworks or other explosive or incendiary devices

Violators face a fine of $300.

It is also illegal to smoke or use an electronic smoking device on Open Space Lands except within an enclosed vehicle or a portion of a parking lot or developed trailhead that has no vegetation. It includes the use of electronic smoking devices and tobacco/marijuana vaporizers.

Violators face a fine of $75.

SUGGESTED VIDEOS: Wildfires in Colorado