High Fire Risk Takes Toll on Community and Fire Department

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In the last 48 hours the Grand Junction Fire Department has spent 43 hours responding to a variety of fires. Dry conditions in the valley apply to more than just brush fires, as evident by the calls over the weekend. Between Saturday and Sunday the Grand Junction Fire Department responded to six vehicle fires, two structure fires, two illegal burns, and one brush fire. These fires collectively resulted in one bodily injury, one individual and a family of five losing their homes, two arrests, upwards of $400,000 of property loss, two separate evacuations, and many adjacent structures threatened but effectively protected.

Six vehicles caught on fire over the weekend. One of these vehicles was home to a man who lost everything in the blaze. Most of the vehicle fires have been confirmed as arson and resulted in the arrest of one adult, and one juvenile on Sunday. The two males have been charged with numerous offenses, including four counts of 2nd Degree Arson, one count of 2nd Degree Assault, and one count of attempted 1st Degree Arson.  The remaining vehicle fires are suspicious and remain under investigation.

Two structure fires were reported, including the fire on Columbine Dr. where a family of five was permanently displaced Sunday. The other structure fire at the 3100 block of Lakeside Dr. came in at 23:10 Sunday night. Once on scene it was determined that brush surrounding the building was on fire and threatening the apartment building. The proximity of the fire along with extremely dangerous fire conditions prompted the Grand Junction Police Department to begin evacuating the building as fire crews worked to extinguish the fire.

Two illegal burns were reported and investigated by GJFD. Under Stage 1 fire restrictions, using fireworks, smoking within six feet of combustible materials, and any wood-fueled fire not within a permanently constructed fire grate, fire pit, or portable fireplace are prohibited. While still hazardous, the use of propane and charcoal grills for cooking food is permitted under Stage 1 fire restrictions.

One brush fire prompted a response from GJFD, Mesa County Sherriff’s Office Wildland Fire Team, and BLM Wildland Team. The fire, located near 200 Dike Road spread rapidly, covering approximately one acre and threatened homes. Again, multiple homes were evacuated and one GJFD engine was dedicated to defending a home which was ultimately not harmed in the blaze. The fire began in an area with medium to heavy fuels that is known as an area along the river with high transient camping use. No lightning or electric malfunctions were reported in the area.

In these dangerous conditions we as a community depend on one another to act safely and responsibly in order to prevent fires from happening. Once a fire starts it will spread rapidly and has the ability to injure or kill people, and destroy property. Help us keep our community safe by following the stage 1 fire restrictions this holiday. If you would like to attend a professional fireworks display, two will be offered in the City of Grand Junction as follows:

July 3 Bookcliff Country Club  (members/guests) after dark, approximately 9:00 PM

Located at 2730 G Road

 

July 4 Lincoln Park/Supplizio Field (public) after dark, approximately 9:00 PM

Located at 1340 Gunnison Avenue