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Fire destroys home near La Veta

by Carol Dunn

LA VETA- The modular home of Ronald and Becky Brunwick, located about seven miles northeast of La Veta, burned to the ground early Sunday morning, November 15.  The Brunwicks were at home and asleep when a smoke alarm woke them about 6:30 am.  The couple told Huerfano County Fire Department Chief Gerald Jerant that the smoke got so thick so fast that they fled to safety with only what they were wearing, leaving everything else behind.  Jerant said it appeared the fire started around the water heater at the northeast corner of the home.  Strong winds from the northeast fanned the fire, and it was already through the roof by the time the fire trucks arrived.  Jerant said that, although response time within Walsenburg is 8-10 minutes, the first unit did not arrive at the fire until 7:02 am.  He said several factors worked against the responders, including fog, the icy and snowpacked highway, and negotiating the back roads to the rural location, about a mile from the endpoint of County Road 352.

    The Brunwicks waited in an adjacent motorhome for the fire trucks to arrive.  All of their personal possessions and clothing in the house were consumed by the fire, including their wedding rings.  “This was not a type of construction to resist fire,” said Jerant.  Because the garage was upwind of the fire, it was saved, along with some tools and personal possessions.

    According to Jerant, the fire did not appear to be suspicious in origin.  He said the Colorado Bureau of Investigation will not be called in, and the Fire Department will go with the findings of the insurance company’s investigation.

    Jerant said one fire fighter was injured on the scene, suffering a sprained knee.  Responding were two trucks, an engine and a water tender from Walsenburg; a water tender from the Navajo substation; a pumper-tender from Gardner; and a water tender from La Veta.

    The American Red Cross, the Masons, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints are combining efforts to take care of the family’s immediate needs of shelter, clothing and food.  Contact Wynelle Turner at 989-0105 if you would like to donate items to help the Brunwicks out.