WELLINGTON, Colo. (CBS4) – There are new questions about a fire that torched hundreds of acres of grassland in northern Colorado.

Approximately 650 acres burned near Wellington around noon on Sunday. Gusty winds fanned the flames. Investigators believe the fire was human-caused. They say it’s possible people who were target shooting may have caused the fire.

Homeowners had to work quickly to protect their properties before firefighters arrived.

“I didn’t really have time to undo the hose and bring it back over here, so I just grabbed a shovel and started kicking and whatever I could do to keep it away,” homeowner Mike Bennett said.

Authorities took no chances and released a reverse 911 call for a two-mile radius warning homeowners that they didn’t have to evacuate, but to be prepared.

“It was a nice calm morning and we were out on the horse and on the four-wheelers and then we went in because the wind started to pick up,” homeowner Christi Bennett said. “I was in the shower and my husband said there was a fire and we need to go.”

grass fire map Target Shooting May Be To Blame For Grass Fire Near Wellington

(credit: CBS)

Mike Bennett wasn’t initially concerned and went to a neighbor’s house to help them with their horses.

“I turned around and it was already up on this hill,” Mike Bennett said. “Then the adrenaline pumped.”

Firefighters needed three hours to gain the upper hand on the fire.

“Human-caused is the likely potential, but the specifics; that we’re not releasing at this point,” Nick Christiansen with the Larimer County Sheriff’s Office said.

“I’ve hear that there was some target practicing going on,” Mike Bennett said.

An avid shooter himself, Mike Bennett doesn’t believe target shooting could have caused all the damage.

“Lucky that nothing really bad happened,” he said.

Investigators might be able to release what caused the fire in the coming week. They say target shooting has caused fire in the past and the conditions are very, very dry.

Wildfire Resources

– Visit CBSDenver.com’s Wildfire Resources section.

– Read recent Wildfire stories.

Wildfire Photo Galleries

– See images from the most destructive wildfire (Fourmile Fire) and largest wildfire (Hayman Fire) in Colorado history.


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