Official: Smoker Sparks Large Fire In Lincoln County

"I was so worried about the wind turning and heading in that direction [towards her house]," Faith Hanson said after watching a fire scorch dozens of acres on her property.

Hanson, whose home sits on hundreds of acres outside Punkin Center, believes she and her husband lost about 100 acres in all.

The fire was more than 20 times larger than that, said Capt. Michael Yowell with the Lincoln County Sheriff's Office.

"It was a long, skinny fire...went over a mile," he told 11 News. Yowell said in that mile, the fire managed to burn 2,286 acres and damaged several landowners' properties.

Hanson says she first noticed the flames around 7 Thursday night.

"It started at the fence line up there...big flames...you could see them, all the way going that way towards Limon. They were huge."

She and her husband tried in vain to put the fire out themselves.

"[We used] our coats. ... There was just too much to do, so we had to give up."

Eventually, firefighters from multiple agencies--some as far away as Cimarron Hills and Security--responded to the Hansons' property to battle the fire. Crews weren't just fighting the fire, but were battling through strong wind gusts as they tried to put the flames out.

"The high wind was our nemesis," Yowell said. "We could not get ahead of it. At one point, firefighters were having to jump on getting protection around a structure, but I'm happy to say no structures were damaged."

Yowell praised the firefighters for the "phenomenal" job.

"They really saved our bacon. ... We had 27 agencies respond, everyone almost to the eastern state line."

Yowell told 11 News he wanted to make sure all involved in fighting the fire knew how appreciated their efforts were.

He had harsher words for the smoker he believes carelessly threw a cigarette butt out the window of a car. The sheriff's office found a cigarette butt at the fire's origin site, and are confident that was the cause of the fire.

"I would like to know who did this," he said.

The fire was fully contained just before midnight. Firefighters remained on scene to watch for any flareups, but Yowell said as of noon Friday, all of the hot spots were out.


The fire never got near Hanson's home, a blessing amid the losses she and her husband suffered Thursday night.

"We got acres of land now the cows can't eat on. So that's going to hurt. That's food that the cows aren't going to be able to eat and I don't know how we're going to do it. Hopefully we have enough acres that we can have the cows still here. ... It's awful. There went money down the drain.

"At least it didn't get to the house," Hanson added. "I thank God for that."

Punkin Center sits on Highway 94 about an hour east of Colorado Springs.