Fire is deemed `suspicious’ |

Fire is deemed `suspicious’

A fire that destroyed a home in Snowmass Village early Sunday morning had “suspicious origins,” fire investigators have determined.

“We have not determined a cause for the fire, but we have determined it was suspicious,” said Snowmass Village Fire Chief Bill Cowan. Snowmass Fire Marshal John Mele and an independent fire investigator made the determination.

No one was hurt in the fire at 35 N. Ridge Ln. But the damage was so extensive that the seven residents were left homeless, Cowan said.

“We have ruled out all the normal causes that may have been accidental or otherwise,” Cowan said. “In other words, we’ve ruled out gas, electrical, fireplace – that type of thing.”

Cowan said his department has requested investigative assistance from arson experts with the Colorado Bureau of Investigations. The CBI arson team is expected to begin processing the fire scene today, he added.

The estimated monetary damage to the building – which was deemed a total loss – was “at least over a couple hundred thousand, I’d imagine,” Cowan said.

In accordance with operating procedures established to preserve the integrity of fire scenes, the charred and gutted structure has been under guard since firefighters extinguished the blaze at about 6 a.m. Sunday.

“We do that for any fire, suspicious or not, so we can accurately determine what caused the fire,” Cowan said.

All seven residents of the building have been interviewed.

“Part of the investigation is finding out what they saw at the time the fire started, if they were home, to help determine where the fire started,” Cowan said.

Twenty-five volunteer firefighters and four firetrucks from the Snowmass Fire Department fought the blaze for four hours after the alarm sounded at approximately 2 a.m. Sunday.

On Sunday evening, Fire Marshal Mele said the fire was “big, bad and hot.”

“The fire was so intense you could see it from almost anywhere in Snowmass Village,” he said.

And had it not been for aggressive firefighting, the fire would likely have spread to another nearby apartment building, Mele said.

Mele said firefighters did not find a single functional smoke/fire alarm in the burned-out building.

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