One injured as result of garage fire on West Francis street; fire officials investigating cause |

One injured as result of garage fire on West Francis street; fire officials investigating cause

One person was injured Sunday morning as a result of a garage fire near the corner of North 6th and West Francis streets, fire officials said.

According to Aspen Fire Chief Rick Balentine, the cause of the fire is still under investigation, but officials believe a natural gas leak in a detached garage led to an explosion, which led to the fire.

Video courtesy of Aspen Fire Department

Balentine said the person injured, a 76-year-old man who was one of the owners of the garage and adjacent home, was transported to Aspen Valley Hospital and flown to Denver for treatment. Balentine did not know the extent of the man’s injuries as of Sunday evening.

At 10:32 a.m., the Pitkin County dispatch center received a call reporting the garage fire at 621 West Francis Street behind an occupied residence.

Aspen Fire Department responded with three engines, one ladder truck, one rescue truck and 17 personnel, Balentine said. Aspen Police Department, Aspen Ambulance District, Roaring Fork Fire Rescue Authority and Black Hills Energy officials were also called to the scene.

Fire officials reported heavy smoke and flames when they arrived, and quickly worked to protect the neighboring structures. Because there was a suspected gas leak, Balentine said the fire area was evacuated soon after public safety officials arrived. As of 2 p.m., the gas for the home and its detached garage had been turned off and nearby residents were cleared to return to their homes.

Balentine said fire officials are still investigating the cause of the fire, noting that the garage is a “total loss,” and commending fire personnel for keeping the flames from spreading.

However, the blaze is believed to be related to a gas leak that occurred when heavy snow and ice fell from the roof of the garage and damaged a natural gas meter below, according to an Aspen Fire Department news release sent out Sunday evening.

The release urged local residents to check for and remove ice dams along their roof edges, as they present significant danger to anything or anyone that they may fall on, and to put protective covers in place above gas meters that are in a location where they could be damaged by falling ice or snow.

“Please dig out all snow that may accumulate around a gas meter so that is can be located and accessed in an emergency,” the news release stated.

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