Cigarette likely sparked Basalt blaze |

Cigarette likely sparked Basalt blaze

Tim Mutrie

Basalt fire investigators have determined an errant cigarette butt or a similar combustible object, discarded in a flower pot, was to blame for Friday morning’s fire at the Pine Ridge Townhomes.

“The fire’s point of origin was a flower pot on the deck of unit six,” said Steve Howard, Basalt fire chief. “The actual source of ignition was something in the flower pot, probably some sort of combustible object.”

The Original Road building, which housed four apartments and about seven or eight residents, was condemned following the blaze, according to Howard. Displaced residents are receiving aid from the American Red Cross, Eagle County Victims’ Assistance and Christ Community Church, as well as from friends and family, he said.

“I’d be surprised if they don’t tear the whole building down,” Howard said. “Unfortunately, we had a one-hundred percent loss of the building, however, we only had a five percent loss of contents or personal belongings. That’s real unusual; generally when a building is totaled, so are all the contents.”

Howard credited the volunteer firefighters from Basalt, Carbondale and Aspen for containing the blaze to the two middle units.

“That type of construction is infamous for burning up, burning out and burning down, because they have a common attic space,” Howard explained. “So the fact that we contained the fire to the middle units was pretty remarkable.”

From the flower pot, which was up against a wall on a second-story deck, the fire spread to the wall and then up into the common attic space, Howard said.

Howard also noted that Basalt Fire’s two new ladder trucks – purchased in 1997 after receiving voter approval – were instrumental in containing the blaze because firefighters were able to work from above the rooftop.

“We wouldn’t have stopped that fire without the two ladder trucks,” he said. “These newer-type, multifamily unit structures pose new risks … with the common attics.”

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