Fire on top of Willits building created a few tense moments

Blaze late Thursday night was confined to HVAC unit on roof

Roaring Fork Fire Rescue answered the kind of call they hope to avoid Thursday night when a fire was reported in the mixed commercial and residential building at 231 Robinson Street in Willits.

The fire ended up isolated to a HVAC unit on the top of the building, but responders had to assume there was a risk to the multiple residences of the building. There are several businesses, including El Korita restaurant, on the ground floor and residences on the upper two stories.

“It probably looked like a big show,” Deputy Fire Chief Pete Bradshaw said Friday morning. “We put a lot of resources on it.”

A call came in at 11:05 p.m. about flames visible on the top of the building. Roaring Fork Fire Rescue responded with 18 firefighters, two engines, a ladder truck and an ambulance. Mutual aid was sought from the fire departments of Aspen and Carbondale, but those firefighters were told while en route they could stand down.

A person on scene was able to direct firefighters to the roof, Bradshaw said. The first responders knocked down the fire using hand tools and fire extinguishers. The HVAC unit was about the size of two refrigerators, Bradshaw said. The fire started in the filter from an unknown cause, he said.

The fire triggered an alarm and residents were trying to determine the source of the blaze. Bradshaw estimated 75 percent of the residents temporarily evacuated their units.

They were cleared to re-enter after firefighters were confident that the fire was contained to the HVAV unit. Firefighters cleared the scene by 12:30 a.m. Friday.


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