After a Breck wildfire, love and hate for fire breaks in the High Country 

Most Summit County fire officials believe a new fire break above the Wellington neighborhood north of Breckenridge prevented a campfire from burning out of control on Sunday, July 7. 

But not everyone agrees. 

“I heard some of the fire folks say they love the fire breaks, and they also don’t like fire breaks because it allows that wind to rip through there really quickly,” said Summit County Undersheriff Peter Haynes at a county commissioner meeting. 

Summit County and the U.S. Forest Service have spent millions of dollars on fire breaks in recent years, where logging crews trim standing deadfall near homes and neighborhoods. They’re meant to create a buffer between people and wildfire, while giving fire crews room to maneuver. 

Sunday’s fire burned less than an acre within several hundred feet of homes, and wind that afternoon was howling. 

“It was picking up every ember on the ground,” Haynes said of the wind. “We had a fair amount of clear cut. It was burning in the dead and down there, but the live fuel, it wasn’t getting to it.” 

County commissioners say they understand the wind concern, but they believe the good outweighs the bad with a fire break. 

“I think it’s important for our community to realize this is the third fire where we had good mitigation, and it made a big difference for neighborhoods,” commissioner Tamara Pogue said, referring to the Buffalo Fire of 2018 and . “I know it has its critics.” 

Some of the biggest critics are online, writing on forums like AllTrails. They believe fire breaks are ruining the landscape by decimating thick forest.