Crews stop two fires near homes

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A 22-acre fire June 27 came within 10 feet of a guesthouse, and a 1.2-acre fire just south of that came within 100 yards of homes in Castle Rocks' The Meadows subdivision. Both were stopped by about 40 firefighters in about an hour, said Castle Rock Fire Chief Art Morales.

It's possible a train was the cause of the fires, both of which seemed to originate near the railbed, but Morales said motorbikes use a dirt trail that runs parallel to the tracks, so that's a possibility, too.

James Bailey, 27, who lives on Morning Glory Drive in The Meadows, said he called 911 after seeing flames shooting up above a dirt trail about 150 yards from his home. He said he later watched a helicopter dropping water, which seemed to eliminate the fire there.

Morales said initial reports coming in at about 2 p.m. June 27 indicated that the blazes were a single fire. When crews discovered two fires, it became a two-alarm fire and more fire departments, for a total of five and about 40 firefighters, were called out. When they arrived, the larger fire was about a third of the size it ultimately grew into, and the smaller was about half the size, Morales said.

He said there wasn't a need to evacuate homes near the fires because of several things, including the lack of strong winds and lack of fuel, since it was grassland with few trees; and also because of the fire crews' success at developing fire breaks. Also, Castle Rock brought in a helicopter to make water drops.

Waverton Ranch is a subdivision north of The Meadows of mainly undeveloped large-acreage lots. But a developed lot in the middle of it — a house along with its guesthouse — was in the path of the larger fire. Much of a fenced-in pasture was burned, the fence was damaged, and the fire got within 10 feet of the guesthouse, but firefighters were able to stop it at that point, Morales said. The owner wasn't home at the time.

Firefighters also had to deal with the property's creosote-treated fence posts, which can burn for a long time. Some were removed and moved into the burned area where they could do no harm. Firefighters returned throughout the night to check on the area, said Castle Rock spokeswoman Karen McGrath.