Basalt firefighters snuff house fire at Homestead Drive, car fire at City Market |

Basalt firefighters snuff house fire at Homestead Drive, car fire at City Market

Basalt firefighters use pike poles to peel siding off a home at 179 Homestead Drive on Tuesday afternoon. They hit the gap with water to make sure no embers penetrated under the siding.
Scott Condon/The Aspen Times

Basalt firefighters scrambled to snuff two fires that started within 40 minutes of each other Tuesday afternoon, one involving two residences on Homestead Drive and the other in the trunk of a car parked at City Market.

Both fires appeared to originate in debris and materials that were being stored, according to authorities. Neither fire was deemed suspicious.

The house fire broke out in a pile of wood, building material, wadded up clothing and “other combustibles” in between a single-story house at 179 Homestead Drive and 167 Homestead, according to Basalt Fire Department Division Chief Richard Cornelius.

Smoke billowed up and was visible all around downtown when the fire broke out at about 1:20 p.m., according to Deputy Fire Chief Pete Bradshaw. The first firefighters on the scene quickly knocked down the flames and prevented them from spreading farther on the exteriors or penetrating the interiors.

After the initial attack, firefighters used pike poles to peel siding off the single-story home because embers had gotten behind the siding, Cornelius said. The heat also melted some plastic lattice at the home. They hit the side of the house with water to make sure all embers were out.

Flames charred the western exterior siding of the two-story home. That house was “imperiled” by flames because of the wind gusts at the time, Basalt Fire Chief Scott Thompson said. The houses were separated by about 15 feet.

The residents of the two-story house were home at the time. They called 911 and evacuated the house. Cornelius retrieved a small dog from the house. No one was injured.

Bradshaw estimated the combined damage to the houses at about $30,000. Basalt Police Chief Greg Knott said the cause was unknown but the fire wasn’t deemed suspicious.

The Basalt department had 14 firefighters respond to the scene and four joined from the Snowmass department. While they were mopping up that blaze, a fire was reported at 2 p.m. in a vehicle parked at City Market in El Jebel.

“It was a fire in the trunk of a car in the parking lot,” Thompson said. “There was a lot of stuff in the trunk, including a 10-pound helium bottle.”

The tank didn’t explode. It was unknown what it was being used for, Thompson said. There was a language barrier with the owner of the car. She said she hadn’t been in the trunk for some time, according to Thompson.

Firefighters broke out a back window to extinguish the fire in the backseat. They pried open the trunk, pulled out burning contents and doused them, Thompson said.

As with the house fire, the winds could have spread the fire.

“It could have certainly spread to other cars,” Thompson said.

The Chevrolet Cavalier was a total loss.

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