Fire guts Blake Avenue duplex | PostIndependent.com
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Fire guts Blake Avenue duplex

Pete FowlerGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Post Independent/Kelley Cox
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Daniel Jenkins woke up at about 2:30 a.m. Tuesday to sounds of his dog, Muhammad, barking and glass breaking. He ran into the kitchen and saw a whole wall engulfed in flames.Dustin Weller and his wife Samantha woke up to Jenkins bursting through their door screaming that there was a fire. In shock and half-awake, they ran out of the duplex at 2119 Blake Ave. with barely any clothes on. Dustin had just purchased the duplex with his father in September.Dustin, 23, raced around completely naked trying to save dogs. Samantha, 20, screamed loudly and hysterically. She ran into the street with nothing but a shirt on.Dustin was herding dogs away from the fire into a friend’s car. But one of the three dogs, Petey, ran back inside and hid under the bed. Dustin went back inside. By this time the smoke was so thick that he had to hunch down to breathe. He grabbed Petey by the tail, pulling him out from under the bed. They’d adopted Petey with an injured tail, but there was no choice.Justin, a roommate who lived downstairs, wasn’t outside.Jenkins smashed a bottom floor window on the west side of the house, and others broke a window on the south side, which they got Justin through.A neighbor across the street eventually gave Dustin some boxer shorts and more clothes for him and Samantha to wear.Everyone was ultimately safe. Everyone except Meow the cat.”She was a good cat,” Jenkins said.Samantha went to the hospital for smoke inhalation, and someone else was treated for a cut.”That’s the good news – no human life was lost or injured,” Glenwood Springs Fire Department Chief Mike Piper said.

According to neighbors and people in the duplex, Glenwood Springs Police arrived first, followed by Glenwood Springs Fire Department, which arrived about 15 or 20 minutes after witnesses noticed the fire. The fire department said it received notice from dispatch at 2:38 and arrived seven minutes later.The fire started on the south side of the house where there used to be a deck with storage below it. There was speculation about whether or not a propane grill on the deck or gasoline for lawn mowers below the deck caused the fire. But Piper said the damage was extensive enough that it would be very difficult to determine the cause. The propane and gasoline contributed to the blaze, he said.There was also a question of whether someone smoking started the fire. The department ruled that the fire was accidental.The propane “really created a firestorm on that deck,” he said.Flames spread into the attic and toward the front of the house and burned through part of the roof. At one point, a firefighter sprayed down on the roof from an aerial ladder extended horizontally above. Firefighters fought the blaze until declaring it under control at 4:16 a.m. and clearing the scene around 8 a.m.”To me it was just a raging inferno,” Lois Ann McCollum said, a next-door neighbor to the south. “I got to shaking so bad I needed to sit down somewhere.”The southwest corner of the duplex is blackened and the two floors in that segment ruined. There are charred husks of what used to be a lawn mower and debris from a burned-down deck and storage shed underneath.”I lost everything,” Jenkins said. “I have someone else’s shoes on and a shirt and pants and a snowboard.”But Jenkins was philosophical about his losses. “I got my dogs, and all my roommates are safe, so that’s all that counts,” he said.

Much of the house was destroyed, but the rooms on the north side weren’t damaged as much. The house looks almost undamaged from the northeast.Tuesday before noon, a brother and sister who rented space on the north side were wondering if their turtle – Michelangelo – was still alive.Elena Loya thought the turtle might be OK since they lived on the north side of the house that didn’t burn as badly and the turtle was in a water-filled tank. Michelangelo did make it.A man from Chile in the unit adjacent to Dustin’s, Patricio Szigethi, thought his passport had burned. He has an April 30 flight back to Chile, and feared having to travel to the consulate in Los Angeles.He later found his passport.In the afternoon, people went through the house looking for things that could be salvaged. Black ashes were caked underneath Samantha’s fingernails from sifting through the mess. She found her wedding dress intact and her social security card.



Dustin and Samantha plan to stay at Samantha’s parents’ for a while.Despite having their lives disrupted, people were able to joke about how Dustin ran naked carrying a dog, and calling Samantha “melodramatic” for running around screaming. They even commented that the Brother Ali concert they saw at the Belly Up in Aspen Monday night was good.But the reality of fire was hard to comprehend.”I never thought this would happen to me,” Dustin said.”I’m still in shock,” Samantha said. “I don’t think it’s hit me yet.”Contact Pete Fowler: 945-8515, ext. 16611 pfowler@postindependent.comPost Independent, Glenwood Springs Colorado CO


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