Hertha Ridge fire burns 80 acres; all homes saved

By John Gardner
The Surveyor

A single engine air tanker drops slurry near a house west of County Road 27E during the Hertha Ridge Fire on Aug. 17. John Gardner / The Surveyor

A single engine air tanker drops slurry near a house west of County Road 27E during the Hertha Ridge Fire on Aug. 17.
John Gardner / The Surveyor

The Hertha Ridge fire that burned nearly 80 acres just west of Larimer County Road 27 E on Aug. 17 was the largest wildland fire in nearly five years, according to Berthoud Fire Protection District’s Operations Chief Rob Stumpf.

“That was something else,” Stumpf said. “That was the biggest fire during my tenure here in Berthoud.”

Larimer County Emergency Services took over command of the fire at one point, and the investigation was then turned over to the Larimer County Sheriff’s Office to determine the cause. No word has been released on what actually caused the fire as of Tuesday.

According to Stumpf, about five homes were under what he termed a “true threat” from the fire on the eastern side of Hertha Ridge. But the fire was moving northwest, and if it had crested the ridge and started down the western side, many more structures would have been threatened.

“Had it gone over the western ridge, had it gone down there, we would have been in a lot of trouble,” Stumpf said.

No structures were lost, due to firefighters’ efforts, but one chicken coop was damaged.

The fire began after noon on Wednesday, Aug. 17. The cause of the fire remains under investigation, according to Stumpf.

Crews remained on scene overnight on Aug. 17, providing structure protection and monitoring. Thursday morning crews returned to the scene and continued containment and mop-up, according to a statement on the BFPD’s Facebook page.

The fire was reported 100 percent contained just after 2 p.m. on Aug. 19.

Stumpf added that the single-engine air tanker that dropped slurry, protecting structures and stopping the fire from cresting the ridge, was instrumental in the successful efforts.

Loretta Lyn commented on Facebook: “Thank you for saving our community of over 35 family homes in Carter Lake Valley. And also the homes on Hertha Ridge. You are truly our heroes!”

Comment from the Berthoud Fire Protection District via its Facebook page expressed gratitude for the assisting agencies that responded and helped out.

“We are tired…but we are also incredibly proud of the efforts of so many,” the post reads. “We are grateful for Larimer County Emergency Services and OEM, LFRA, FRFA, PFA, Estes, Windsor, Longmont, State DFPC, Boulder County, Mountain View, LCSO, SEAT 831, LECC, Juniper Valley, everyone who helped over the last three days, and the love from so many residents of our district.”

Crews from Berthoud, Loveland, Front Range, Windsor, Poudre Fire Authority, Longmont, Mountain View, Boulder County, Larimer County, and the Colorado State Division of Fire Prevention and Control all contributed to the effort.

This is the third wildland fire this summer within the same general area west of Berthoud, Stumpf said, including the Sedona Hills fire that burned approximately 30 acres, and another smaller brush fire on Schofield Road earlier this summer.

Stumpf said fire authorities held a meeting earlier this week to discuss a fire-mitigation plan for the area. According to Stumpf, the area of the Hertha Ridge fire has been identified as a “high hazard” area, and fire personnel are discussing a fire-mitigation plan that he hopes could be implemented as early as next year.

“There’s a lot of fuel out there and a lot of structures,” he said, “and not a lot of access or egress or mitigation.”