North Routt cabin explodes Wednesday morning; may have been caused by snow load

An unoccupied cabin in north Routt County near Columbine exploded around 7:40 a.m. on Wednesday, March 8, according to the Routt County Sheriff’s Office.

No one was in the cabin and no injuries have been reported, said Routt County Undersheriff Josh Carrell, who added there is no threat to surrounding structures at this time.

Around 7:40 a.m., scanner traffic indicated dispatch received multiple 911 calls reporting an explosion near the intersection of Routt County Road 129 and Forest Service Road 490, the latter of which is the road to the Hahns Peak Trailhead.

Later, scanner traffic indicated that the building appeared to have completely exploded, with “shrapnel” strewn around it. Members of the North Routt Fire Protection District were on scene and were working to shut off any utility connections and ensure the remaining fire went out, though they were not actively working to extinguish it, according to scanner traffic.

The early cause of the fire appeared to be snow load on the roof of the cabin that shifted and impacted a natural gas line, according to scanner traffic, though a more thorough investigation into the situation is forthcoming.

If that turns out to be the cause of this explosion, it wouldn’t be the first time snow load has caused such a boom. In 2016, a home in Steamboat Springs exploded after firefighters believed snow slid off the roof and struck a gas line, triggering a fire and explosion.

Routt County has seen strong snowfall this year, and data near Columbine indicates North Routt has seen 146% of the 30-year median of snow water equivalent, according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Snow water equivalent at the Elk River Snotel site is currently at 23.9 inches, compared to a 30-year median of 16.7.

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