Late-night blaze at Apple Tree leaves family of six homeless
NEW CASTLE – Diane Renteria and her family will be moving from their New Castle home sooner than planned.The Renterias were hoping to sell their mobile home in the Apple Tree community until a fire late Thursday displaced the family to the Roadway Inn.”We wanted to move, but we didn’t think it would be that quick,” said Renteria, a mother of four who works at Safeway. “I told my husband, ‘We were thrown a rope, and we’ll have to pull ourselves out.'”At 11:18 p.m., Burning Mountains Fire District responded to the fire, which originated in the chimney of the family’s wood-burning stove, said fire chief Brit McLin.”We had people from all three (district) stations there,” McLin said. “The attic was fully involved when we got there.”McLin said Apple Tree employees and volunteer firefighters were quick to react on the scene by shutting off the utilities and containing the fire to one residence.”Any mobile home park is a major concern because it can go from one structure to the next quickly,” McLin said. “They contained it and the family and the family pet (a dog named Buck) were evacuated. The roof is probably a total loss because of the home’s modular nature and about 80 percent of their belongings are looking to be salvageable.”The fire’s outcome did not seem so positive for Renteria, her husband, Mike, and their four children, ages 7 to 14, as she spoke from their New Castle hotel room Friday.”I thank everyone there who was trying to save our belongings. Most everything that wasn’t in a cupboard is a loss,” she said. “The response was quick, but there was no fire truck … it was well over 40 minutes before they started dousing that fire. That’s why I’m so upset.”According to McLin, dispatch took the call at 11:18 p.m. and emergency crews were on scene by 11:38 p.m.. Crews stayed on the scene until 11:30 a.m. Friday.Renteria said her husband and a neighbor tried to put out the fire 10 to 15 minutes before emergency officials arrived at the scene.”I was surprised the flames didn’t shoot through the roof before that,” Renteria said. “My husband climbed up on the roof with a bowl of water. We just kept telling them, ‘Do something, do something.'”Blaze: see page A4Once a Burning Mountains fire truck – driven by Apple Tree co-owner Ross Talbott – arrived, Renteria said tensions flared as her husband continued to fight the blaze.”When Ross pulled up in his firetruck, Mike was going to help pull the fire hose out,” she said. “He was saying ‘Come on guys, we got to stop this.'”Renteria said that is when Talbott struck her husband in the face. Mike said he plans to file charges against Talbott.”For someone in trauma like that, you don’t want to kick them while they’re down,” Diane Renteria said.Russell Talbott, also a Burning Mountains volunteer fireman and Ross’ son, said he was the first on the scene. He did not comment on the assault allegations, but said tragic situations such as house fires can cause tensions to mount.”A lot of emotions run very high. It’s very difficult when your anger and your energy is running high,” said Russell Talbott. “We see it all the time at scenes of accidents or fires. We’re accustomed to seeing people acting inappropriately.”Talbott said he and his colleagues were efficient in containing the fire and helping avoid injuries or fatalities.”We shut of the utilities and acted according to the book – that’s what we’re there for,” he said. “The homeowner was acting out because of his feeling of agitation for what he believed was our lack of response, which is normal. We actually responded in good time – rapidly – and I commend the fire department.”Along with Burning Mountains, the Garfield County Sheriff’s Department and the Red Cross were on the scene of the fire. The Red Cross donated a seven-night stay for the family at the Roadway Inn, along with vouchers for clothing and food.”The Red Cross has been wonderful,” said Renteria, who received a call from an area pastor to arrange for donations and a stranger offering her home as temporary housing to the family. “They’ve been great.” To make arrangements to assist the Renteria family, call the Roadway Inn at 984-2363. The Renterias have four children – three boys ages 14, 12 and 7, and an 11-year-old girl.
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