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Farmer who started illegal burn could face charges

By Michelle San Miguel, Multimedia Journalist - Pueblo Chieftain Bureau/Telemundo Anchor, michelle.sanmiguel@krdo.com
Published On: Mar 19 2013 11:53:51 PM CDT

Planned Burn Gets Out of Control

PUEBLO, Colo. -

The farmer responsible for a controlled burn that erupted into a wildfire Monday says he's done dozens of controlled burns over the past 40 years. He did not want to be identified but says he does have a burn permit but didn't know Pueblo County was under a red flag warning at the time.

It took seven hours to contain the fire Monday, which scorched 15 acres. Nearby homeowners had done their own prep work, which helped mitigate the damage.

"Some homes with very clear flat ground all around them, branches not overhanging their roof, no bushes right up against their property, those kinds of things help the fire crews protect that structure," said Lisa Shorter, spokesperson for the Pueblo County Sheriff's Office.

Before someone can start a burn, Shorter says they need to check in with their local fire department and obtain a burn permit.

"Even though it's not a red flag day, the fire chiefs have decided that just because the National Weather Service hasn't declared it dangerous to burn that day, there might be conditions in their jurisdiction that mean no burning," Shorter said.

Shorter says it's important to call the Pueblo County Burn Line so they can notify the 911 call center of a planned burn in the area. The number for the burn line is 719-583-2876.

Those planning an agricultural burn in El Paso County do not need a burn permit, but they do have to contact the local fire department.

As for the farmer, Shorter says he could face charges. It's under investigation.

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