Fire destroys structure, fuels fears on Missouri Heights
A fire gutted a 2,500-square-foot structure under construction on Missouri Heights yesterday and fueled concerns that it would ignite the dry landscape surrounding it.
Flames were shooting 30 to 40 feet from the roof of the garage and apartment in the Spring Park Meadow subdivision when Basalt firefighters arrived on scene at about 10:45 a.m.
Sustained winds of 20 mph and higher were blowing burning debris into the surrounding hillside of oak and sage brush and dry grasses. The new subdivision with large lots was recently built into the open range of Missouri Heights west of Spring Reservoir.
Fortunately a fire hydrant in the new subdivision was pressurized. “That really saved the day,” said Basalt Fire Chief Scott Thompson.
Firefighters entered the structure but found that the stairway to the second story had burned away, preventing easy access to the source, Thompson said. Firefighters cut into the roof and attacked the blaze from above. By 11:30 a.m., the fire was out.
Twenty-five firefighters from Basalt responded. They were assisted by five volunteers and one engine from Carbondale.
Thompson estimated the loss at $200,000. The property at 0303 Park Meadow Lane is owned by Harold and Kathy Arnold, whose current address wasn’t available.
Work on the first-floor garage and second-story apartment was nearly completed. A sheet-rock crew reporting to work Wednesday morning found the fire. A language barrier between dispatchers and the Latino workers hindered the reporting. Firefighters initially feared, from the report, that people were trapped in the structure, but no one was injured.
Thompson said that after the structure cooled down, he and fire marshal Vonda Williams found a propane heater “right where the fire started.” Propane gas pumped to the heater accelerated the fire in the interior of the building. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.
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Highway 82 is closed in both directions Wednesday morning after a multiple vehicle crash, according to a Pitkin County alert.