A closer look at the damage left behind from Junkins Fire

Burnt home at Junkins Fire
One home burnt to the ground from Junkins Fire / Mike Duran -- FOX21 News

CUSTER COUNTY, Colo. — It’s been just over a week since the Junkins Fire started but for the first time Tuesday the media was able to tour behind the fire lines to get a first hand look at the damage.

“Very odd,” said Sheriff Shannon Byerly of Custer County. “The way you can tell that the wind just drove this fire.”

A Dodge Durango sat through the entire fire and it’s completely unscathed. It’s also less than 25 feet from one home which burnt to the ground.

“It was close,” said Byerly. “You can tell 360 degrees around their home is burnt and pretty bad through here. The fire was hot and it moved quickly.”

The smell of smoke is what woke the owners of this home — that and an emergency phone notification saved their lives.

“Everything on their property — they’re going to have some trees left, maybe, depends on the survivability but pretty tough loss for these folks,” said Byerly.

Crews have been working roughly 25 square miles of forest and private property. As part of their effort to conserve what’s left, they’ve been initiating burn outs which act as buffer for the structures still standing.

“Basically how it works is we’ll put in some sort of line,” said Monnica Morrison with the Great Basin Management Team. “In this case we were able to utilize the road system and we’ll go a certain distance off that road and burn the fuels out.”

The hope being that the main fire will lose its momentum and force once it reaches the set line.

“One of the main things we’ll do a lot of times is burn the fuels behind those structures so that when the fire gets there, it doesn’t have anything to burn,” said Morrison.

A total of 9 homes and 17 structures have been lost so far but there is a silver lining.

“Our hearts go out to the folks that lost their homes but with the size of the fire, boy it could have been even worse than it is,” said Byerly.

Fire crews will continue mop up efforts in the area. Officials add that once conditions permit a burnout operation is planned for the next several days which will increase smoke just south of Wetmore.



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