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Fire destroys two houses in Huerfano

HUERFANO- Despite unseasonably warm weather, Huerfano County had two different house fires break out in remote sections of the county.  The house in Blackhawk suffered major heat damage but escaped total immolation, whereas the home in Paradise Acres was a goner.  Here are two different reports:

    On January 19, at 1:58 pm, the Huerfano County Fire Department was paged out to respond to a structure fire in Blackhawk Ranch at 24050 4 mi. Canyon Rd. Due to the red flag warning being in place that day, Gardner, La Veta and Spanish Peaks Fire Departments were also dispatched. Upon arrival, a residential structure was found to have been heavily damaged by a hot smoldering fire inside of the house. The property owner and his wife had cleaned the fireplace earlier in the day and then gone to Aguilar. When they returned home, they discovered the entire interior of the house heavily damaged by heat. They opened the doors to cool it. When the Fire Department arrived on scene they cancelled the other responding departments and began to investigate and check for any hidden fire. Some small flames were discovered in the attic and quickly extinguished. The wife of the homeowner was transported to Spanish Peaks Hospital by ambulance to be checked out for injuries sustained in a fall outside of the house. Cause and origin of the fire will be investigated by the insurance investigator. Had the fire not been contained inside of the house due to lack of oxygen, it could have easily extended into the heavily forested area surrounding the property.

Paradise Acres home destroyed by fire

by Carol Dunn

PARADISE ACRES– A home at 1140 Houchin Blvd. in Paradise Acres was a total loss after a fire Sunday evening, January 18.  The La Veta Fire Department (LVFD) responded to the structure fire in the subdivision, just southwest of La Veta pass, about eight miles off Highway 160.  LVFD had been put on stand-by Sunday, also referred to as automatic mutual aid, for Gardner’s Upper Huerfano Fire Department (UHFD), because several Gardner staff members were attending a class on wildland fire.   

    LVFD Chief David DeTray was first on the scene.  He reports that the inside of the house was already in flames at that time.  LVFD used its 500-gallon engine pumper to start pumping water on the house from the outside, and once the UHFD arrived with its 500-gallon pumper, the firefighters attempted to attack the fire with water through the front door.  However, by then, DeTray said, “It was extremely hot and fully involved inside the house.”

    The snow and icy roads presented a problem for fire vehicles, and La Veta’s two water tenders never were able to get up the hill to the fire.  “This is one of the drawbacks to living up in the beautiful mountains,” DeTray said.  According to Mark Brunner, LVFD, Huerfano County Road & Bridge did show up with a snowblower and was able to throw snow onto the flames of the fully involved house.

    Seven La Veta personnel with five vehicles and eight Gardner personnel with six vehicles responded to the fire.  Brunner coordinated radio and telephone information flow from La Veta.  UHFPD Chief Brian Sharp, who was one of the responders, was not able to be reached by the Huerfano Journal for comment.

    Toward the end of the fire, the UHFPD auxiliary brought food for the tired workers.  DeTray said all the firefighters were also thankful for the assistance provided by Paradise Acres residents, who brought food for firefighters and tried to ­help with snowbound vehicles.  “It’s a close-knit community up there,” he said, “and they really help each other.  Everybody was there to do whatever they could.”

    The name of the home owner was not released because, DeTray says, the fire is under investigation by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation and will also be investigated by the insurance company.