Investigation into the Carquest Auto Part fire continues
Colorado River Fire Rescue Chief Randy Callahan is waiting for the investigation team to come back with its findings
Two weeks after a structure fire gutted the multi-use commercial building at 1000 Railroad Ave., Fire Chief Randy Callahan is thankful no one was injured.
“I’m sad for the business loss, but I’m thankful we didn’t lose citizens or firefighters in that building,” Callahan said.
“I think our firefighters served the community very well.”
Crews from Colorado River Fire Rescue responded to the fire at 9:14 a.m. Oct. 23 in Rifle.
“When we pulled up on that fire in the morning, that fire was already into the structure and compromising it. It was into the walls, attic and floor,” Callahan said.
“What we were able to do is get the fire knocked back and knocked down to do high risk primary searches for occupants. It was a very difficult search for the resources we had on scene — large building.”
Callahan said incident priorities are life safety (both the occupants and the responders), incident stabilization and property conservation.
“When we engage we have a risk profile that we align with incident priorities. Our risk profile is what risk we will take to ourselves to effect these incident priorities.”
CRFR were able to complete secondary searches as well to make sure the structure was empty before crews were removed due to its being compromised.
All occupants were evacuated from the upstairs apartments with no major injuries.
After the risk level dropped on the fire CRFR needed to get crews back in service and give staffing a much-needed break after fighting the fire all morning.
Units were put back into service on the already busy day and with the property already lost CRFR decided to patrol the building and return for hot spots.
Callahan said the next hot spot was a significant one.
“It was a risk profile deal. Once we took care of the life safety the building was too compromised with both structural integrity and toxins to put our folks back in it,” Callahan said.
“We patrolled the building, we were putting our rigs in service, we were servicing our people, who were exhausted and that’s when we went back. In my opinion, the folks did an incredible job within our risk profile of life safety.”
Callahan said its not unusual for fires like this one to reignite. The fire was a metropolitan fire in a rural setting, and the outcome would have been the same in either setting whether CRFR showed up with 100 people or 20.
Twenty-two personnel were on scene at the fire for the duration, from early Oct. 23 until Oct. 24, when investigators arrived.
Mutual aid from Grand Valley and Glenwood Springs helped CRFR handle staffing throughout the day.
Callahan said GSFD helped cover stations and responded to calls during the structure fire, while Grand Valley responded to the scene.
“It was a challenging day in the valley,” Callahan said.
Callahan said the Garfield County investigation team that is investigating the fire is made up of law enforcement, fire department and insurance officials.
Prevention Division Chief and Fire Marshall Chief Orrin Moon with CRFR is the primary lead for the department.
“We all work together to try and find the cause. The challenge we have is the building is structurally damaged so we can’t go in it,” Callahan Said.
“The investigation is ongoing. Hopefully more information will be available soon.”
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The family of Rosie Ferrin has worked to clean up and make safe again the old schoolhouse in downtown New Castle. Ferrin died this summer and had owned the building that included classrooms turned into apartments for years.