Fire destroys midvalley workshop
A fire in a glass-blowing workshop presented some extra pop and danger for firefighters from Basalt and Carbondale on Wednesday night.The fire broke out shortly before 8:30 p.m. about two miles west of El Jebel on the south side of old Highway 82. An ambulance crew from Basalt was headed to the Carbondale area to assist the department there when they saw smoke coming from the workshop and reported it.Firefighters from both towns scrambled to the scene. The workshop had containers of flammable materials, such as magnesium, that exploded and emitted showers of sparks, Basalt Fire Chief Scott Thompson said.”It’s pretty cool. It looks like the Fourth of July when you hit them with water,” he said.Carl Smith, deputy fire chief in Carbondale, said magnesium burns extra intensely and requires more water to put out. Firefighters had to take precautions against toxic fumes the materials released.In addition to the special pyrotechnics, the fire presented a challenge because it was close to a residence, and it threatened to spread into the tinder-dry brush and grass of the sparsely developed neighborhood.Smith said the firefighting effort was a success even though the workshop was a loss. The two departments coordinated their attacks and transported all necessary water to the site because no supply was available. The Aspen fire department sent a truck to Basalt to cover the midvalley district while the firefighting was under way.Basalt firefighters attacked the fire from the east side, by the house. Carbondale firefighters attacked it from the road.”It was fully engulfed and ready to collapse when we arrived,” Thompson said. The flames destroyed an older-model Toyota Land Cruiser parked next to the one-story workshop but never really threatened the home.The firefighters extinguished the flames in less than 30 minutes, but Carbondale kept a crew on site overnight as a precaution.The workshop was unoccupied when the fire broke out but the owner saw the flames from his house at about the same time the Basalt ambulance crew reported the fire, according to Smith. Carbondale’s report on the fire wasn’t finished Thursday so the owner’s name was unavailable.The fire started inside the structure, Smith said. Thompson said a 2-inch natural gas line fed what appeared to be a kiln and other equipment inside the workshop.
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