A fast-moving brush fire on the Cherry Creek Trail in Parker consumed 14.1 acres on April 13, less than 24 hours after another fire scorched a 1.3-acre patch of land on the same trail.
Both fires were deemed “suspicious” and “human caused” by officials with the Parker Police Department and South Metro Fire Rescue. A police detective has been assigned to work with South Metro to investigate both incidents.
“If anyone sees anything suspicious or sees anything that looks out of place, they should call the police,” said Eric Hurst, public information officer for South Metro.
South Metro officials received a call reporting the April 13 fire at 12:23 p.m., shortly after the blaze began south of Pine Lane between Parker Road and Jordan Road. The April 12 fire occurred along the same trail less than a mile away, just south of Lincoln Avenue.
A total of 75 personnel and 36 engines from South Metro, the Aurora Fire Department, Elizabeth Fire Department, Cunningham Fire Protection District and the Franktown Fire Protection District battled the April 13 blaze, driven by winds reaching over 24 mph and fueled by dense, dry vegetation. A Rampart Helicopter Services helicopter dropped water on the quickly spreading fire as the gulch along the trail, packed with dry bushes and tall trees, was too dangerous for ground personnel to enter.
The fire was contained at approximately 3:30 p.m., though crews remained on scene until 8:30 p.m. Additional units were dispatched the morning of April 14 to extinguish smoldering areas where smoke was reported.
No injuries were reported and no homes or schools were evacuated or damaged, but Global Village Academy charter school was put on a temporary lockout as the school’s parking lot was used as a command center for fire crews.
On April 14, Hurst said it was “too early to tell” if the two fires were related or how they were ignited, but added that “natural fires” are extremely rare in the area because there are no power lines or other potential fire starters. He urged people in the area to exercise caution in any outdoor recreation.
“It’s dry,” Hurst said. “If it’s hot or makes sparks or makes flames, be extra careful.”
Chris Peters, spokesman for the Parker Police Department, said the department was “following up on leads about some suspicious characters.”
“If anyone did see something and is on the fence about whether or not they should say something, give us a call,” Peters said.
Neighbors in the Challenger Park subdivision gathered at a playground approximately 300 yards from the April 13 fire, gasping at times as flames leaped above the height of the cottonwood trees lining the trail and threatened the grassy field between the fire and the neighborhood.
“I just saw the flames from the highway, from 470,” Tom Alltop, a resident of the Challenger Park neighborhood, said as he watched the blaze from a playground near Coltsfoot Drive.
“The only concern I have is if someone’s starting it,” Alltop said. “You’ve got to have some source for the fire to start, and it’s suspicious that it’s two (days) in a row.”