Watch CBS News

'One Careless Act': Photographers Spot Fire Burning At Unattended Campsite

By Karen Morfitt

LAKE COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) - Two Colorado photographers planned to spend the Labor Day weekend searching for fall colors.

"With it being the big holiday weekend we wanted to kind of avoid the main crowd areas," Kimberly Randall said.

Camp Fire Extinguished 1 (Joe Randall FB)
(credit: Joe Randall)

On Saturday, Joe and Kimberly Randall were exploring a remote area on Independence Pass for the perfect camera shot and found much more.

"My first reaction was 'Wow, that's a really big fire,'" she said.

Camp Fire Extinguished 7 (Joe Randall FB)
(credit: Joe Randall)

As they got closer, they could see it was a campsite, but that no one was around and flames from the fire pit were climbing up into the trees.

With cameras in hand, they snapped a couple of quick photos and then started shifting their focus from photography to firefighting.

Camp Fire Extinguished 4 (Joe Randall FB)
(credit: Joe Randall)

"We spent the next hour grabbing pots and water about a gallon at a time running back and forth from the creek and getting the trees out fire first, and then I dug a ditch around the perimeter trying to keep it out of the pine needles," Joe said.

When the flames were out, or at least under control, Kimberly rushed out of the woods to call fire crews.

The Randall's said the Salida Fire Department, the U.S. Forest Service and Leadville/Lake County Fire Rescue would all respond and not a moment too soon.

Camp Fire Extinguished 8 (Joe Randall FB)
(credit: Joe Randall)

"We would have lost the forest," Kimberly said. "There is no way you could have gotten anyone back in there or equipment back in there fast enough. It would have gotten out of hand very quickly."

Camp Fire Extinguished 5 (Joe Randall FB)
(credit: Joe Randall)

The couple is now being showered with gratitude for stepping in before it was too late; a response they never expected and say they did not need.

"It's the least we could do for the place we love," Joe said.

Camp Fire Extinguished 3 (Joe Randall FB)
(credit: Joe Randall)

What they are hoping for is that campers hear their story and remember to properly extinguish every campfire.

The Randall's were not sure if the campers responsible received tickets or not.

"It just takes one careless act, one doubt that can really cause a ripple effect and really affect homes and wildlife," Kimberly said.

Wildfire Resources

- Visit's Colorado Wildfire section.

Wildfire Photo Galleries

- See images from the most destructive wildfires (Black Forest, Waldo Canyon, High Park and Fourmile), the deadliest (Storm King) and largest wildfire (Hayman) in Colorado history.

Karen Morfitt joined the CBS4 team as a reporter in 2013. She covers a variety of stories in and around the Denver metro area. Connect with her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter @karenmorfitt or email her tips.


View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.