Family considers moving after West Glenwood fire |

Family considers moving after West Glenwood fire

Pete Fowler
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Kelley Cox Post Independent

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” Ryan Mahler was driving home after coaching soccer practice at Rifle High School when he saw a burning house in West Glenwood Springs from Interstate 70.

“I was talking to my wife and said, ‘Oh, a house is burning.’ Then I looked again and said, ‘That’s our house.'” Mahler said. “It was just overwhelming.”

There was only some smoke visible from I-70 around 7 p.m. Monday, Mahler said. The fire at 74 Mitchell Creek Road was reported at 5:25 p.m.

Glenwood Springs Fire Department firefighters arrived in less than 10 minutes and extinguished active flames in less than 15 minutes from the original call, said GSFD Capt. Chad Harris. Firefighters cleared the scene after a total of about two and a half hours.

Three dogs were removed from the residence. No one was home, and no one was injured during the fire.

Harris said firefighters determined cigarette butts left in flower pots on a second story back deck caused the fire. The pots sat by the corner of the house next to an exterior wall. Smoldering butts reportedly lit peat moss in the pots, which lit the exterior on fire. Firefighters ruled it accidental.

Mahler was renting a basement apartment with his wife, Melissa, and 5-week-old baby girl, Paxton. The flower pots were on a deck next to a three-bedroom unit above the Mahler’s apartment.

The fire burned up the wall on the second story, where it got into the attic and burned rafters, insulation and a portion of the roof. Harris estimated the home may have suffered up to $15,000 of damage.

Firefighters at one point cut through the roof to access the attic and extinguish burning rafters and insulation. Harris said the fire did not breach inside the structure, and there was very little damage to the interior other than smoke damage. The home’s utilities are still intact, and there was no water damage.

“Actually, it’s structurally intact, and as long as the roof’s covered it’s livable because of the lack of interior damage,” he said. “Smoke damage is something they’re going to have to mitigate.”

The renter of the upstairs unit couldn’t be reached. Owner Jan Krische said, “We were most thankful that the people and pets were totally safe.”

The current house is only six years old. An older one was completely burned in the Coal Seam Fire in June 2002. She and her husband Gil are in the process of getting repairs done on the house and hope to get the tenants back in as quickly as possible so they’re not displaced any longer than necessary. They bought the place three years ago.

Krische said she was really impressed with the way the fire was reported and the quick response by the fire department.

“They got things under control and taken care of so quickly and I’m sure spared a lot of damage to the house and to the tenants’ property as well,” she said. “We really appreciate their efforts.”

Originally from Idaho, the Mahlers moved to Glenwood Springs from Wyoming about four months ago. Now they’re considering moving again ” not an easy prospect with the lack of affordable rentals in the area.

“They said it would be good to go by the end of the week or Monday,” Mahler said. “But I’m still skeptical.”

Melissa, who stays at home and takes care of Paxton, plans to take her back to Idaho for a time, where the couple’s families live. Mahler said he’ll probably stay with some co-workers of his who work in the city of Glenwood Springs electric department. He hopes to continue working for the city and one day purchase a home. After hitting the one-year mark with the city, he said, he should become eligible for down payment assistance through the city’s Employee Housing Ownership Program.

Melissa said American Red Cross got the family a room at a local hotel for a couple of nights. One Red Cross employee agreed to take care of their two dogs, an unwelcome species at Glenwood Springs hotels.

The couple wonders if they’ll have to get rid of all their furniture and baby clothes. They worry smoke residue could be unhealthy for their baby.

“They said we could wash them, but I don’t know,” Ryan said. “We’re trying to stay positive but it’s just tough.”

Contact Pete Fowler: 384-9121

Post Independent, Glenwood Springs Colorado CO

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