Fire that destroyed bunkhouse tested Steamboat firefighting resources |

Fire that destroyed bunkhouse tested Steamboat firefighting resources

A fire destroyed an outbuilding at a ranch at 32650 Colorado Highway 131 near the base of Rabbit Ears Pass on Wednesday afternoon.
Matt Stensland

A wildfire and structure fire Wednesday at a ranch along Colorado Highway 131 tested the resources of Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue.

During the eight hours that firefighters spent at the fire, off-duty firefighters were called into work and firefighters from other agencies came to help.

Firefighters responded to the fire at 3:17 p.m.

Just minutes earlier, a fire alarm sounded at the Routt County Justice Center. Then a few minutes later, firefighters were asked to come to the Steamboat Today building on Curve Plaza.

Power had partially gone off at the Steamboat Today building, and employees could smell smoke.

A crew on their way to pick up a water tender from the downtown station diverted and responded to the Steamboat Today.

It was determined the smoke was due to an electrical short, and there was no fire.

Firefighters chose not to respond to the Justice Center, and Sheriff’s Office deputies were tasked with figuring out the cause of the alarm.

Firefighters then picked up the water tender and responded to the Colo. 131 fire, which was located in a rural area where there are no fire hydrants.

The fire was burning in grass and heavy brush, and the main residence was threatened in addition to outbuildings. Smoke was also observed coming from a bunkhouse.

With a limited water supply, firefighters focused on saving the house.

Fire Chief Mel Stewart said a shift in the wind direction complicated firefighting efforts.

Oak Creek firefighters came to help with a 1,000-gallon water tender, and four West Routt firefighters responded with an engine.

It took about an hour to knock down the fire, which completely destroyed the bunkhouse. It then took several hours to mop up the fire.

During that time, Stewart and seven off-duty firefighters covered staffing for other calls.

The cause of the fire was still under investigation.

Sheriff’s Office Lt. Doug Scherar said firefighters noted there were multiple extension cords leading out of the destroyed bunkhouse.

“That’s definitely a consideration,” Scherar said.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland

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