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Man Recalls Trying To Save His Ranch From The Fourmile Fire

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Charred buses at the Colorado Mountain Ranch (credit: CBS)

Charred buses at the Colorado Mountain Ranch (credit: CBS)

GALLERIES: COLORADO'S WORST WILDFIRES

BOULDER COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – The Fourmile fire in Boulder County erupted on Labor Day last year. It burned more than 6,000 acres and destroyed 169 homes.

Firefighters say conditions right now are just as dry, if not drier than they were last year. Now Boulder County has issued a ban on open fires and fireworks.

CBS4’s Stan Bush talked with a man who fought the flames last year to save his ranch. Mike Walker is hoping he’ll never see another fire like the Fourmile fire.

Walker has spent his entire life at the Colorado Mountain Ranch, a rustic getaway overlooking the Fourmile Canyon.

“We feel real fortunate that we’ve been able to get where we are and save what we did,” Walker said. “We’re real pleased with the progress that we’ve made.”

Now it’s a peaceful scene, but a year ago it was the frontline of a fight against fire.

“The fire was 200 or 300 feet about this building; I mean tall,” Walker said.

Walker and a few others stayed at the ranch to try to keep the fire away. Trees burst like roman candles and Walker lost his barn, a tool shed, and even his home.

“It was so big that nobody could do anything. The guys were trying to keep it from spreading, but as far as putting it out, you can’t fight it.”

Walker saved enough to keep the summer retreat running, including a bunk house and all his horses. He said he’s learned how to protect his home.

“Anything that it can get its hands into, and you can get it put out, you have potential for that building to be taken by the fire.”

The threat of wildfire is back but Walker doesn’t expect another disaster. There’s less fuel, but even less moisture in the ground. Walker has fortified his ranch armed with enough water in tanks to hold fire at bay — if only for a short time.

“We’ve kept everything topped off and ready to put water on whatever.”

Walker said he’s not worried about fire coming up the Fourmile Canyon. Last year’s fire was so intense it wiped out most of the available fuel. But he says a fire coming up the other direction, from Lefthand Canyon, could be just as bad.

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