Steamboat Smokehouse suffers extensive damage as a result of fire |

Steamboat Smokehouse suffers extensive damage as a result of fire

A private investigator is wrapping up his investigation into a December fire at the downtown Steamboat Smokehouse. Exact reopening dates for the four businesses effected have not been announced, but the Steamboat Shoe Market hopes to resume operations by March.
Kari Dequine Harden

Editor’s note: Marcia and Joe’s Kitchen no longer operates out of Steamboat Smokehouse. They are now located in The Press.

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The interior of the Steamboat Smokehouse suffered extensive damage after a fire broke out early Sunday morning.

The nearly 30-year-old business will likely be out of commission for some time, said Interim Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue Chief Chuck Cerasoli. The extensive damage extends to the two other businesses operating in the building and Ciao Gelato.

The first call came in at 7:14 a.m., Cerasoli said, with reports of alarms going off and smoke coming out of the back of the building located at 912 Lincoln Ave. Firefighters arrive on the scene at 7:18 a.m.

The first firefighter on scene found an active fire burning in the building, according to a city news release. The captain then “made an immediate decision to attack the fire and protect adjacent buildings.”

One firefighter was transported to the hospital with minor injuries, but more as a precaution and not as a result of anything traumatic, Cerasoli said.

The fire was officially declared extinguished at 1:02 p.m., after firefighters spent several hours working on “extension,” which involves searching through walls and other parts of the structure to ensure the fire has not spread.

“What we don’t want is to have the fire reignite in some place we can’t see,” Cerasoli said.

While still under investigation, Cerasoli said it appears the fire originated in the upstairs office. From there, it spread quickly into the roof, he said.

“It was completely filled with smoke, so (it) took a while to get in and figure out where the fire was — you first have to get enough smoke and heat out, so you can get in,” he explained. “By the time they found the seat of the fire, it had spread to the roof.”

There were never flames visible from outside the building.

The crews did a “phenomenal job” in containing the fire as quickly as possible, Cerasoli said. “It took a tremendous amount of work.”

Cerasoli emphasized their hard work in preventing a much worse outcome: the fire spreading throughout the historic block.

“They continue to amaze me,” he said of his crew. “We can say it was a good stop because of their hard work.”

Every 20 minutes, firefighters had to come out of the building, switch oxygen tanks and have their vitals checked, Cerasloi said. In addition, with old buildings that have been renovated numerous times, there are a lot of layers to dig through.

Firefighters work to put out any hot spots after a fire broke out inside the Steamboat Smokehouse on Sunday morning. (photo by Kari Dequine Harden)
Kari Dequine Harden/staff

They had to pull apart the ceiling and floor, and there is a large hole in the roof, he said.

“Once we opened an area, the fire would reignite and continue to hop toward the front of the building before we were able to put enough water on it,” Cerasoli said in the release.

It was critical to have the participation of other agencies, Cerasoli said. North Routt, West Routt and Oak Creek fire protection districts all sent manpower and resources to help. With eight firefighters on duty at all times, that isn’t enough for Steamboat Fire Rescue to take on a structure fire alone, he said. Four fire engines were at the scene, along with a tower truck and three ambulances.

The Routt County Sheriff’s Office and Steamboat Springs Police Department were also on scene from the beginning. Some assisted with directing traffic, as the north side of Lincoln Avenue remained closed throughout the morning.

No one was on the scene at the time the fire broke out, Cerasoli said, but the building and business owners did arrive later and assisted where they could.

Other neighboring business owners were also on the scene to assess damage and inquire about opening.

Nearby at Azteca Taqueria, manager Aaron Ellis said he arrived at work around 7 a.m. and saw black smoke coming from the roof. The smoke became so thick at one point Ellis said he could barely see the buildings across the street. As a gesture of appreciation, Ellis brought over breakfast burritos for the crew.

While there was limited smoke damage to the neighboring buildings, the fire seems to have remained isolated to the smokehouse, Cerasoli said.

The immediately adjacent buildings include the Steamboat Shoe Market and the Veterans of Foreign Wars building.

The Fire Marshall and Police Department are investigating the cause of the fire, and the investigation will be ongoing.

To reach Kari Dequine Harden, call 970-871-4205, email or follow her on Twitter @kariharden.

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