When the landscape contractor arrived to mow at a home in Fort Collins, Colorado, his goal was to protect their home from fires. He was there to trim back the couple’s lamb’s ear plant for fire mitigation purposes and they had decided to do this on Saturday, because the previous days had been too hot and dry to mow safely. Unfortunately, while his mowing may have saved the Smiths’ home, it also caused a fire.

Investigators determined that the Spring Glade Fire was sparked when a mechanical failure caused by the mower’s spindle hit a rock and set the grass ablaze. It’s an event which the homeowners are unlikely to forget any time soon. “It started as a puff of smoke,” the wife said, “but by the time my husband came back with the backhoe to put it out, it was out of control.”

Scott Pringle, spokesman for the Loveland Fire Rescue Authority, confirmed the assessment that the fire grew too quickly to be stopped. “The mowing operator stated that the fire was already the size of a tractor by the time he noticed it,” Pringle said. “He was unable to safely extinguish the fire before it grew too large.”

Instead, the wind fanned the flames and 371 acres of Spring Glade, southwest of Fort Collins, burned. The contractor was understandably shaken by the incident. “He was in shock,” said the homeowner, “and couldn’t stop apologizing for starting the fire.” Happily, the fire was swiftly contained, and no lives were lost. No citations or criminal charges are expected over the blaze.