Boise & Garden City

Small pathside fire reminds that Greenbelt is not just flood-prone, but flammable

A group of passersby helped stamp out an accidental fire along the Boise Greenbelt Tuesday.
A group of passersby helped stamp out an accidental fire along the Boise Greenbelt Tuesday.

An ash-sparked fire along Boise’s Greenbelt was quickly contained Tuesday evening when the people involved and passers-by joined forces to stamp out the spreading flames, a witness and the Boise Fire Department report.

“About 15 people stopped in all, and there was a line of people along the perimeter of the fire stomping it out,” said nearby resident Bryn Lauer, who called 911 to report the blaze shortly before 8 p.m. — then called again seven minutes later to let authorities know the fire was out. “It was awesome.”

The Boise Fire Department responded, spraying down the area to douse any lingering embers. Firefighters estimated the burned area along the path was 10 feet by 50 feet, BFD spokeswoman Char Jackson said.

The fire was accidentally started by two men walking their dogs along the path behind Adams Elementary School and the Natatorium, at Warm Springs Park, Lauer said. One of the men was smoking, and speculated that cottonwood fluff in the air hit his cigarette, then landed in the dry grass, she said.

Firefighters described the fire as accidental, started by cigarette ashes hitting the grass, Jackson said.

The two young men stopped to try to extinguish the fire, which was spreading quickly and initially included flames Lauer described as “almost waist-high.” They were wearing sandals and got burns on their feet, she said. Others who were walking or riding bikes on the path stopped to help, she said, stomping on the flames and throwing loose dirt on them.

“Fires along the Greenbelt are a common occurrence in the summer,” Jackson said. “The Boise Fire Department wants to remind people that even though there is flooding happening right now, there are still high temperatures that are drying out the grasses along the river and Greenbelt.”