Barbecue grill eyed as cause of big house fire south of Steamboat
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Investigators suspect a propane barbecue grill that was left on caused a big blaze that consumed a home in the Whitecotton neighborhood south of Steamboat Springs on Friday.
Nobody was home at 27841 Whitecotton Lane when the fire started about 1 p.m., and no injuries were reported.
But, by the time the nearest firefighters made the 10-mile drive to the rural subdivision, a lot of damage had already been done.
“It appears to be accidental,” Routt County Undersheriff Ray Birch said. “We think the barbecue grill was left running on the deck, and the resident took a trip into town. Neighbors heard a loud bang or an explosion, which appeared to be the propane tank.”
Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue Deputy Chief Chuck Cerasoli said that, while the house is likely lost, firefighters were able to prevent the blaze from reaching the bedrooms.
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“They were able to get some important personal belongings,” Cerasoli said of the homeowners. “That’s the bright side of it.”
The fire had spread from the deck to the inside of the house before firefighters arrived.
Cerasoli urged area residents to use caution when using grills and to turn the propane and the grills off after every use.
Neighbor Joe Meglen arrived at the house before firefighters and used a garden hose in an attempt to extinguish the flames.
Neighbors also shut off a propane tank.
“Your neighbors are your first responders in a situation like this,” Meglen said.
Firefighters from Steamboat Springs, Hayden, North Routt County and South Routt County were all called to help battle the blaze.
“It was a good combination of all the fire departments working together to make it happen,” Cerasoli said.
Firefighters were initially concerned the fire had the potential to spread from the home to nearby vegetation and become a wildfire in the rural neighborhood.
Smoke from the fire could be seen several miles away on Colorado Highway 131.
Meglen described the home as a total loss by the time the flames were put out.
“It’s very sad,” he said.
The 2,302-square-foot home is owned by Samuel and Sharon Taliaferro.
At the time of the fire, the home was under contract to be sold.
The sale was expected to close in the coming weeks.
A listing for the home and a photo gallery is featured on newyorktimes.com.
Neighbor Sid Hopkins said a farewell party for the Taliaferros was scheduled for next week.
“These poor people were buying the house, and they were going to move in soon, and now, look at it,” Hopkins said as flames and smoke billowed from the home.
Meglen said residents of the Whitecotton neighborhood are taking care of the Taliaferros following the loss of the house.
“They’re coming over for dinner,” Meglen said.
Sam Taliaferro was a longtime veterinarian in Steamboat.
Sharon Taliaferro retired after working for 20 years in Routt County education.
She served as the special education director for the Northwest Board of Cooperative Educational Services.
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