Investigators set sights on ‘stubborn fire’ that destroyed Old Snowmass-area house
Investigators hope to figure out this week what caused a fire that burned for 17 hours in concealed spaces in the floor and essentially gutted a house on East Sopris Creek Road on Saturday night and into Sunday.
“In my 25 years (of firefighting), I’ve never seen a residential structure so destroyed inside and look so good on the outside,” said Roaring Fork Fire Rescue Deputy Chief Pete Bradshaw.
The fire in the floor of the main level made the structure unsafe for firefighters to attack from above or below, so they pumped roughly a half-million gallons of water into the house, filling the basement, Bradshaw said. Crews on Sunday morning increased the water on the fire from 500 gallons to 1,500 gallons per minute. The fire was determined to be out at 11 a.m. Crewed remained on the scene until 1 p.m. The house is located at 6401 E. Sopris Creek Road.
The structural damage that made firefighting so difficult also will hinder the investigation, Bradshaw said. The fire department hopes to partner with an investigation team selected by the insurer.
Bradshaw said there was nothing deemed suspicious about the fire. Lightning is a possible cause. There were reports of lightning in the area Saturday evening and the fire department confirmed strikes in the area with the National Weather Service, according to Bradshaw. The lightning possibly caused the fire in concealed areas.
“It was a very stubborn fire,” Bradshaw said.
Firefighters reported seeing flames only a handful of times but the fire produced heavy smoke that was visible throughout the valley floor. The interior of the fire and all furnishings and possessions were a total loss. The house was vacant at the time. Two firefighters were treated for “superficial injuries” on the scene.
The Aspen and Carbondale fire departments aided Roaring Fork Fire Rescue.
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