Wildfire that scorched thousands of acres in Baca County started by cigarette

Photo courtesy: Baca County Sheriff's Office
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BACA COUNTY, Colo. (KKTV) - A large wildfire in southeastern Colorado that scorched thousands of acres and threatened several structures was started by a cigarette.

Officials believe a driver tossed the smoldering cigarette while driving past the state line sign on Highway 287 or while stopping there. Heavy wind gusts and ample dry fuel helped push the fire north of the Colorado/Oklahoma state line towards the town of Walsh.

The blaze was reported around 2 p.m. and was contained more than six hours later. It burned 3,800 acres before crews got the upper hand.

More than half a dozen structures were threatened at one point, but as of the last update, there are no reports of damage. The fire did prompt evacuations.

"It's unfortunate how many fires are caused every year by motorists throwing cigarettes out of their car. I want to remind people of the possible penalties for doing so and express how dangerous it is. Yesterday many people, animals, property, homes and emergency crews were placed at great risk because of someone's carelessness," said Baca County Sheriff Aaron Shiplett in a Facebook post.

Improperly discarding a cigarette that then ignites a fire can result in arson charges, the sheriff's office said.