Fire crews knocked out a wildland fire that flared up on the border of Lake Minnequa in Pueblo Saturday afternoon.
It started about 2:00 p.m. and fire crews had it under control in just a few hours.
The wildland fire burned 70 acres of grass and trees along the lake but no one was injured and no structures burned.
What drew the most attention was a massive plume of smoke that could even be seen from the interstate, North of Pueblo. Because of a lack of wind, officials say the smoke went straight up, making for a scary scene.
"It was pretty high, I saw yellow in it when I thought it was out, then I saw the black still coming up, so I didn't think it was contained yet,” said Andrea Archibeque.
Even though they were battling very dry conditions, crews got it contained in just a few hours. It was 95% contained by about 4:30 p.m. They say the lack of wind helped them get it under control.
"I even looked out there again just now to make sure that it was dark and I didn't want to see any glowing embers,” said Randy Conder.
The fear from the wildfire still lingers for residents Saturday night. It caused some very scary moments for Pueblo residents who live near Lake Minnequa.
They were concerned as they saw the flames grow higher, a plume of smoke fill the air, and ash falling down on their heads.
"There was quite a bit of white billowing smoke, but then there was black smoke where it was continuing to burn toward the lake, but then the wind shifted and it started heading west in this direction,” said Randy Conder.
That’s when Randy Conder grew concerned. He lives in an apartment complex off Acero that was the main structure threatened by the fire.
"The flames were probably 10, 12 feet high in there you could see them. And there were a lot of small fires burning all over but the bigger ones were in the cattails down by the lake,” said Conder.
Fire crews drew a fire line, and a walking trail created its own barrier to protect the apartment complex. But Conder was ready just in case.
"I figured whatever I could get out of here that was valuable I would take and that would be it; because once it jumped that line, it wouldn't have stopped,” said Conder.
Residents on the east side of the lake were also prepared to evacuate if needed. One woman we talked to was born and raised on that block, and was concerned that the open space in front of her home could catch fire.
"We get our important papers and things. The house is not important, but some things are, just make sure we have clothing in case we have to stay somewhere else,” said Alice Lovato. She adds, “I think we all need to start thinking about preparing for things like this especially a dry season like this.”
"Appreciate what the firefighters did, they are still the heroes,” said Conder.
At the height of the fire, emergency notification phone calls were made to alert a number of homes in the area and asking residents with respiratory ailments to stay indoors. There were no evacuations ordered.
The main focus Saturday night was fighting hot-spots and making sure there are no more flare-ups.
Sunday they will get to work on finding out how the fire started.
If you know anything about the cause of the fire, call Crime Stoppers at 542-STOP (7867).
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