Grass fire consumes more than 10 acres, threatens structures

Kirchhefer touts importance of firebreaks to protect homes

TORRINGTON – Monday around noon, Goshen County Emergency Management Coordinator Shelly Kirchhefer heard reports of a grass fire echoing from her pager. Grass fires aren’t uncommon this time of the year, but this time, the address was Kirchhefer’s home.

“I froze for a second, thinking, ‘Did they just say (my address)?’” she recalled.

During the next two hours, volunteers from Torrington, Prairie Center and Lingle fire departments battled a blaze on the 4500 block of Road 80 that ended up consuming more than 10 acres of land.

Kirchhefer credits firebreaks and creating a defensible space around her, and husband, Gary’s, home, for saving their house.

“With Gary and I both being on the fire department … we try to educate folks if you’re out in the country like that, you have to keep everything mowed short away from the house, away from the tree lines,” she said. “I can guarantee it works. I have first-hand experience.

“That’s one of the first things we do in the springtime, keep everything mowed short. I can’t preach it enough, that will save your property.”

Thirteen firefighting vehicles, ranging from Quick Attacks to a tanker, and 22 firefighters fought to keep the flames down. In the end, there were no injuries, and no damage to structures.

“Thank you to everybody – that was wonderful,” Kirchhefer said. “We had help coming from everywhere. They were great firefighters and great neighbors helping out. We scorched some trees – it got pretty darn hot right around the fence line.”

The fire started at the intersection of Road 80 and 45, and the cause is still under investigation.

“There are more fires to come, whether by lightning strike, fireworks, tossing a cigarette out – the best thing to do is do those firebreaks,” Kirchhefer said. “Folks, you’ve got to mow around your house. Grasses are tall, we’ve had a lot of moisture. Just because it’s green, doesn’t mean it won’t burn – it will burn.”

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