Inspector: Fire’s cause might never be known |

Inspector: Fire’s cause might never be known

— The investigation into a fire at the Lowell Whiteman School that killed two dogs is still under investigation. An official said the cause might never be known.

Jim Cooley, a fire inspector with the Steamboat Springs Fire Marshall’s office, said he’s investigating whether an electrical problem ignited the blaze, but he said there are several possibilities as to what started the fire last week in a small log cabin on County Road 36.

“There’s not much to go on. It might be undetermined unless we get a substantial piece of evidence,” Cooley said. “It’s one of those that’s pretty hard to nail down.”

On Thursday, Cooley said he met with the Whiteman intern who was living in the cabin. He also has taken photographs of the charred remains of the once-historic structure.

Cooley said the investigation is ongoing and he should have a report ready in several weeks.

Meanwhile, the grave of the two dogs killed in the fire is now adorned with flowers, a plaque, dog biscuits and Pele’s favorite soccer ball.

Ryan Gray’s black Labrador mix and his sister’s Australian shepherd, Polo, were trapped inside the cabin at the private school on Saturday. They died of smoke inhalation before firefighters could save them.

Firefighters worked with Gray and his sister to bury the dogs the night of the fire and they erected a small cross to mark the grave.

The night of the fire, Gray drove to Steamboat to get a bite to eat because the school wasn’t serving dinner.

“I usually leave them outside, but it was lightning and pouring rain,” Gray said.

From local residents to a woman in New Jersey, the number of people wanting to help Gray get back on his feet is amazing, he said.

“I greatly appreciate the help. This is a great community,” Gray said on Friday. “The Whiteman students made a memorial plaque that is really nice.”

The 25-year-old moved to Steamboat about a year ago after completing graduate school in Boulder. Practically everything Gray owned was destroyed in the fire, but he said he really only needs clothes.

Anyone wanting to help Gray can call the Whiteman School at 879-1350.

— To reach Michelle Bales call 871-4208 or e-mail

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