Gusty winds fanned a planned burn on the Lazy H Ranch outside of Paonia into a wildfire on Thursday, April 26. No structures were reported damaged and the fire was quickly contained after being reported around 6 p.m.
The fire burned about 44 acres of land on the north side of Jumbo Mountain. Most of the area was on ranch property, with damage to about four acres of adjoining public land managed by the Bureau of Land Management.
The fire was battled by the Paonia Fire Department, Colorado Division of Fire Protection and Control, BLM and a ground crew from the Delta Correctional Center. Air support was provided by Olathe Spray Service. They were able to control the blaze around 8:45 p.m.
Ranch manager Lisa Escher had called the county's burn line prior to conducting the burn, so no charges will be filed, according to the Delta County Sheriff's Office.
Pre-positioning of resources at the North Fork Valley Airport played a big role in fighting the fire. Manager Mike Clawson said the airport maintains a 1,600-gallon water storage tank on-site that was donated by Leonard Felix with Olathe Spray Service. The Paonia Fire Department stores the pumps and hoses used to fill the crop duster at the airport.
The tank is drained during the winter, and was refilled and all the hoses and pump were checked about two weeks before the fire erupted.
"If they had to go to Olathe or Delta to refill the plane, it wouldn't be as effective (in fighting fires in the North Fork area)," said Clawson.