Missouri Heights home under remodel burns to ground in early-morning fire
The Aspen Times
An early-morning fire Tuesday destroyed a 5,000-square-foot house in Missouri Heights that was in the late stages of an extensive remodel, firefighters said.
The unoccupied house was fully in flames when the first crews arrived on the scene at 5509 Upper Cattle Creek Road, according to Roaring Fork Fire Rescue Authority Deputy Chief Pete Bradshaw. A resident who lives a short distance away reported the fire at 4:57 a.m.
Firefighters could not enter the burning house to fight the flames from the inside because of the intensity of the fire and the risk of the structure’s collapse, said Deputy Chief Kevin Issel, who directed operations at the scene.
The fire was in a rural area without fire hydrants, so water had to be hauled to the site. Firefighters tapped a 10,000-gallon underground water storage tank at a neighboring property, Issel said. They filled water tankers at other locations and refilled the cistern.
Another challenge was the surrounding dry vegetation. Ember showers from the house were initially blowing toward dry grass and other vegetation a short distance away from the house, Issel said.
Firefighters were concerned that the house fire would start a wildfire because of the dry conditions. Fortunately, the windy conditions of the past two days in the valley died down Monday night and Tuesday morning. Firefighters were able to work from the outside and control the flames without the fire spreading.
“We were really lucky,” Issel said.
No one was injured in the firefighting effort. None of the outbuildings surrounding the house were damaged.
“At about 7 a.m., the fire was reported as under control, but it is expected that crews will be on scene most of the day monitoring the structure,” a statement from Roaring Fork Fire Rescue said. Bradshaw said fire crews had cleared the scene by late afternoon, releasing the scene to the homeowner and a contractor. He said firefighters will continue to check the site periodically.
Jeff and Sam Frank of California own the two-story residence. It was a total loss. The house was on a hillside across Upper Cattle Creek Road from Spring Park Reservoir. It had sweeping views of Basalt Mountain, Capitol Peak and Mount Sopris.
The cause of the fire hadn’t been determined as of Tuesday afternoon, but nothing was deemed suspicious. “No red flags have been raised,” Bradshaw said.
Investigators from the homeowner’s insurance company will take the lead in determining the cause, he said.
Roaring Fork Fire Rescue responded with three engines, a water tender and 24 personnel. The neighboring fire departments from Carbondale and Aspen were called to the scene for assistance due to the size and intensity of the fire. That brought the total firefighting force to 30.
Firefighters used more than 30,000 gallons of water during the incident. The Eagle County Sheriff’s Office and Holy Cross Energy also assisted on the scene.
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