Fire crews battle tough access at Colorado 82 fire | AspenTimes.com

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Fire crews battle tough access at Colorado 82 fire

An investigation into the cause of the fire that burned three homes on Colorado 82, completely destroying one, is ongoing, though fire investigators do not currently have reason to think the incident is suspicious in nature.

Local fire investigators will review the scene Tuesday with insurance company investigators.

Rob Goodwin, Carbondale and Rural Fire Protection District deputy chief, said the blaze presented significant challenges to crews, whom he praised for knocking down the fire soon enough to save two of the three homes.

“It was a terrible day for a fire, with 25 mph winds out of the West.”

The third home was at the base of the Elk Springs drainage, which could have developed into a much worse fire, he said.

Carbondale Fire was paged about the structure fire near the Colorado 82 and Spring Valley Road intersection at 1:45 p.m. and the first crews arrived on scene at 1:58 p.m.

After first receiving the call, crews were en route in about three minutes, said Goodwin.

“I’m pretty pleased with that response time,” said Goodwin.

“I know that when you’re standing right there watching something burn it seems like a long time.”

After receiving the page, fire crews try to get out the door in no more than two to three minutes. The crew only has control over how quickly they can get out the door; after that the response time is based on travel conditions and traffic, he said.

When they first got on scene Goodwin put out the call for mutual aid from surrounding fire departments.

“It was a very difficult incident to deal with,” he said. Access to the houses was relatively restrictive, and the area didn’t have a nearby fire hydrant. So water tanker trucks had to shuttle water to the scene.

About 14 people called in the fire, said Goodwin.

But by the time it was reported, the fire was already coming through the roof, indicating that it had already progressed a good ways, said Goodwin.

“By the time crews got there, almost the whole house was involved, with high winds spreading embers and heat.”

On a fire like this we take a defensive strategy to make sure it’s not going to spread,” said Goodwin.

Within about two minutes of their arrival the second house had caught fire.

The wind on Friday carried embers and heat into the pinon-juniper between the two houses. The heat penetrated the second house, which was about 100 feet away, mainly through the second floor windows.

Although damage appeared severe on the second house, Goodwin said there wasn’t as much damage to the interior, and crews were able to save the house.

The crews did a great job of stopping this fire, he said.

The third house was about 400 yards away, said Goodwin, and its roof caught fire from embers that had drifted over. It burned a portion of the roof, but crews were able to keep that fire from penetrating into the home.