RIDGWAY – Residents up and down the valley between Ridgway and Ouray noticed a tall column of flames on Friday afternoon (Nov. 30) on the west side of the Uncompahgre River in the vicinity of Liza Clarke’s cattle ranch and tree nursery.
The Ridgway Volunteer Fire Department responded to what was a fire in Clarke’s biodiesel fuel shed at 6 Lynx Road, off County Road 23.
According to Undersheriff Joel Burk, a “controlled burn” on the property was whipped up by the wind and spread to the building in which Clarke and her sons process and store biodiesel for use in their farm tractor. “The building was a total loss,” Burk said, though the fire was prevented from spreading to a nearby propane tank and the Clarke residence.
“It could have been much worse,” said Clarke, who watched the conflagration. “It was scary. Nobody got hurt. No animals were killed. And the house was spared.”
Clarke said she and her sons have been collecting cooking grease from area restaurants “for about four years” and converting it to biodiesel. “It’s kind of a messy, difficult process,” she said. “I’m not sure we’re going to be doing it again soon.”