Firefighters fully contain fast-moving fire in Douglas County east of Chatfield State Park

Grass fire Dec 14 2021_South Metro Fire Rescue
Douglas County_Chatridge 3 Fire_Dec 14 2021
Posted at 11:16 AM, Dec 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-14 20:37:27-05

DOUGLAS COUNTY, Colo. — Firefighters have fully contained a fire on the east side of Highway 85 in Douglas County, according to South Metro Fire Rescue.

South Metro Fire said the fast-moving fire, named the Chatridge 3 Fire, spread rapidly when it was first reported and was threatening structures. South Metro Fire Rescue public information officer Eric Hurst said the fire came close to two homes, but he said the homeowners had well-manicured grass that helped keep their fuels down.

It was burning dry grasses and being pushed by high winds. As of 4 p.m., crews are estimating it burned 30 acres.

Poster image - 2021-12-14T111130.632.jpg
The Chatridge 3 Fire burns south of Chatfield Reservoir on Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2021.

No injuries had been reported and no structures were damaged.

Joe Engel, a homeowner in the area, said he could see the wind blowing the fire, and he tried to wet the area to help protect structures. He said he was the asked to evacuate.

"I thought, 'Oh, it’s a brushfire and hopefully it’ll burn itself out real quick," and the fire department showed up, but then I saw all these flames had come in and I saw it jump really fast," Engel said. "It was kind of scary and surprising to me."

Just before noon, South Metro Fire said the fire was fully contained. Firefighters will stay in the area to extinguish hot spots.

By 5:36 p.m., fire officials said the fire was completely extinguished.

Engel said his home is safe, and only their fence was damaged.

Colorado State Patrol closed Highway 85 along the southeast side of Chatfield State Park between W. Titan Road and W. Lakeside Drive out of precaution. Southbound lanes reopened at approximately 12:20 p.m. One left northbound lane remains closed. Fire crews said they were lucky because the winds were blowing away from the highway.

The Castle Rock Fire Department is assisting the South Metro Fire Rescue.

In 2020, a brush fire was sparked in this same area by an electrical malfunction on a power pole. The fire, called the Chatridge 2 Fire, spread to 460 acres before it was fully contained. No structures were damaged in the 2020 fire. A fire also broke out here in October 2016 and burned 205 acres, forcing 850 people to evacuate.

South Metro Fire Rescue said they were unable to determine the cause of the fire. Hurst said high winds as well as low humidity, which was just 9% when the fire started, played a role in the spread of the fire.

Hurst said there's concern of a higher probability of a brush fire occurring Wednesday due to high winds. South Metro Fire Rescue will have more staff on hand to be ready for any needed response Wednesday.

Hurst said Coloradans should be extra careful with anything that produces spark or heat because something as small as a cigarette or hot lawnmower can cause a fire.

Denver7 reporter Gary Brode contributed to this story.