Causes unknown for fires at Steamboat motel, duplex, Elk River garage |

Causes unknown for fires at Steamboat motel, duplex, Elk River garage

— Fire inspectors were on the scene of a weekend Elk River Estates garage fire Wednesday to look at the damage and to look for the cause of the fire that killed five dogs.

Steamboat Springs Fire Pre­vention investigators will work with investigators hired by the insurance company to comb through the rubble.

Neighbor Cathy Lewis said she called in the fire at about 6 a.m. Sunday after waking up and smelling smoke at a neighboring house, owned by Donald and Lauren McLaughlin, on South Elk Drive. Elk River Estates is off Routt County Road 129 about three miles from the intersection with U.S. Highway 40 on the west side of Steam­boat Springs.

Lewis said that at first she couldn’t see the fire but that as she was on the phone with 911, flames started shooting out of the garage.

She said she knew her neighbors were gone for the night because of the Routt County Fair. She sent her daughter to listen for the sound of dogs coming from the garage, but her daughter didn’t hear anything other than the crackling of the fire inside.

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They took one dog that had been outside of the garage for the night to their home as firefighters arrived at the scene. She said the Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue firefighters responded quickly and put out the fire before it could spread to the house.

On Wednesday, the plastic components of an ATV could be seen melted to the metal pieces and tires underneath, and the entire inside of the garage looked blackened and scorched.

Fire Marshal Jay Muhme said the cause was unknown for that fire and two other recent blazes — the duplex fire at Fourth and Oak streets Saturday or the Rabbit Ears Motel fire July 17.

He said investigators from his office and from the insurance companies are working together to find causes for each.

Muhme said it also remains unclear who owns the duplex at Fourth and Oak. Residents had been served with a foreclosure notice before the fire.

“I think that the insurance investigator is working for a bank who had purchased it, but I think there’s still going to be for some time … questions about ownership on that day,” he said.

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