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Cause of house fire under investigation

by Eric Mullens
WALSENBURG — Huerfano County Fire Protection District staff continue to investigate the cause of a Monday night residential fire in the 1100 block of Pennsylvania that severely damaged the home and caused damage to some fire department equipment.
HCFPD Chief Gerald Jerant said Tuesday the fire was called in at 8:34 pm from 1106 Pennsylvania and during the initial attack, Fire Captain Paul Gomez, while inside the home waiting for the fire hose to charge, was caught in a fire rollback in which flames swept over the top of him. Gomez was not injured, although Jerant said his helmet was blackened with smoke and cracked from the heat of the rolling flames. Gomez was able to get out of the room, but the fire hose nozzle and some length of hose itself were damaged and had to be left behind.
Approximately 30 minutes into the firefighting effort, a call for mutual aid was answered by two trucks and about half a dozen smoke eaters from the La Veta Fire Protection District.
Battling both the flames and cold temperatures, the fire scene was first cleared at about 2 am Tuesday, although Jerant stayed on scene throughout the night with a brush truck, periodically having to blast water onto hot spots that flared up from under the roof of the home.
At about 8 am Tuesday, HCFPD sent their ladder truck to the scene to better mop up the hot spots under the home’s roof.
Jerant said the homeowner, Dell Griffin, reported he had heard a ‘pop’ from his electric breaker box sometime before the fire began and had trouble resetting the breakers.
Gomez, the volunteer fire department’s investigator, will be looking further into the cause of the blaze, but Jerant said there does not appear to be anything suspicious about the fire and there are no plans to call in any outside investigative agency.
Editor’s note: Relief efforts for Griffin are underway. He needs extra large shirts, size 32-32 jeans, and size 14 shoes. Please call Sonja at 719- 890-1093 if you have anything you can donate.