Fryingpan house fire started in the kitchen
BASALT Investigators believe a fire that destroyed a Fryingpan Valley home Thursday started when cooking utensils were left unattended in the kitchen.”There are no criminal issues. It does appear to be an accidental, unintentional fire,” Eagle County Sheriff’s Office Detective Brandon Beaudette said Friday.Homeowner Jeffrey Jacobsen, a reserve deputy with the sheriff’s office, was making sugar water for a bird feeder when he apparently forgot what he was doing and left the house for an extended period, Beaudette said. The investigation indicated that there was a fire in the kitchen for an hour or more before passers-by noticed smoke and checked the house. A Good Samaritan told authorities he threw a rock through a window to get the attention of any possible occupant.”That really gave it a lot more fuel,” Beaudette said. The extra oxygen allowed the fire to “rapidly grow in size and intensity.”The Good Samaritan shouldn’t feel bad, the detective added, because the fire probably would have blown out a window, eaten through a wall or otherwise gained oxygen. “This was going to happen one way or another,” he said.The house was about seven miles up Frying Pan Road from Basalt, in the Peachblow subdivision. The two-story log structure was most recently appraised around $1 million, Beaudette said.The house was a total loss. Jacobsen, his wife and son are staying with friends.Access issues and the potential for danger hampered the firefighting effort. Basalt Deputy Fire Chief Jerry Peetz said firefighters had to use chain saws to cut a path wide enough for fire trucks to approach the house.”The driveway was so overgrown with oak we couldn’t get a fire truck up there,” he said.He appealed to homeowners in rural areas to clear brush to make sure access is possible in case disaster strikes.Firefighters responded within 18 minutes of the call, but found the interior of the house engulfed in flames. A 500-pound propane tank about 10 feet from the structure created a safety hazard. Peetz said he was unwilling to risk lives since the house couldn’t be saved.The incident had the potential for greater disaster as the house fire started a small wildfire. Peachblow is a rural subdivision with multimillion-dollar homes scattered in a heavily wooded area.The U.S. Bureau of Land Management didn’t wait to see if the fire would spread, Peetz said. Once informed about the location of the fire, it sent one air tanker, one helicopter, four engines and six firefighters to the area.”They are jumping on it with everything they’ve got,” Peetz said.Fortunately, a microburst produced rain at Peachblow for 15 minutes after firefighters responded, helping stop the spread.Scott Condon’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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