Apartment, warehouse destroyed by fire Sunday night | SteamboatToday.com

Apartment, warehouse destroyed by fire Sunday night

Fire near Elk Mountain leaves two people without a home

A metal barn and an adjacent apartment on Routt County Road 46A are a total loss after a fire Sunday evening.
Chuck Cerasoli/courtesy

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — A barn and apartment west of Elk Mountain are a total loss after a Sunday night structure fire.

At 5:55 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 17, Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue was paged to a structure fire at a metal barn with an attached apartment at 42355 Routt County Road 46A. The entire structure was destroyed. The property is owned by the Louise W. Farrow Trust, according to the Routt County Assessor’s website.

“There was an apartment on the side of this, and that was totally lost,” said Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue Deputy Chief Chuck Cerasoli. “There were two people that were living in that apartment, so they lost a lot of their belongings and, obviously, a place to live.”

A variety of maintenance equipment was located inside the barn, including auto parts, welding equipment, ammunition and propane tanks, Cerasoli said. Excavating equipment and a vehicle at the rear of the building were saved, and firefighters were able to protect a home, vehicles and equipment near the structure.

Cerasoli did not have a cost estimate of the damage, and he said the cause of the fire hadn’t been determined.

“It sounded like it started back where the boiler was for the building,” Cerasoli said. “There were about three or four people there. They tried putting it out on their own, and they were unsuccessful. Then they started pulling some of the more dangerous stuff out of the building before we got there, including oxyacetylene welding supplies and dirt bikes and stuff like that.”

When firefighters arrived, equipment in the building and the structure itself were burning. They verified with people on scene that nobody was inside the structure and decided to fight the flames without entering the building.  

“Flames and fire were really pushing out of the front of the main entry, in the roof and all the way the length of the building to the backside of it,” Cerasoli said.

Eventually, flames reached the roof of the building, causing it to collapse in on itself. Propane tanks and ammunition inside the barn “kept popping and exploding” fueling the flames, Cerasoli said.

Because nobody was inside and because the contents of the building caused a high risk for firefighters, Cerasoli said the captain declared a defensive strategy, which essentially means firefighters work to prevent the fire from spreading to other areas as it burns.

Firefighters hauled in water from a nearby pond to fight the fire, refilling their water tender trucks with 2,000 gallons of water at a time.

With the building having collapsed, firefighters left the scene with the fire cooled and smoking but not extinguished. A Steamboat water tender returned to the scene Monday morning to extinguish remaining hot spots.

“These metal buildings, they kind of end up collapsing inside themselves,” Cerasoli said. “They collapse on top of themselves, so things just continue to burn on the inside. We’re not going to put any firefighters inside the building or even on top of this big heap of debris. The challenge is after the main part of the fire starts dying down, we then try to figure out how to get water into the right places to at least cool it down enough to where we’re comfortable leaving it for the evening.”

Fighting the fire was an all-hands-on-deck effort. Cerasoli said Steamboat Fire Rescue’s entire on-duty staff and some off-duty firefighters responded to the scene, with some crew members heading to the fire straight from transporting a patient to the hospital in an ambulance.  

West Routt Fire Protection District responded with an engine and a water tender, and North Routt brought a tender. Oak Creek Fire Protection District provided an ambulance, which was on standby in Steamboat to respond to additional emergencies in the area.

“We just couldn’t do it without them,” Cerasoli said. “Having them be willing to come and help us is huge.”

To reach Eleanor Hasenbeck, call 970-871-4210, email ehasenbeck@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @elHasenbeck.

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