Missouri Heights home under remodel burns to ground in early-morning fire | VailDaily.com

Missouri Heights home under remodel burns to ground in early-morning fire

Scott Condon, Aspen Times
Photo courtesy Roaring Fork Rescue

An early-morning fire Tuesday destroyed a 5,000-square-foot house in Missouri Heights that was in the late stages of an extensive remodel, firefighters said.

The unoccupied house was fully in flames when the first crews arrived on the scene at 5509 Upper Cattle Creek Road, according to Roaring Fork Fire Rescue Authority Deputy Chief Pete Bradshaw. A resident who lives a short distance away reported the fire at 4:57 a.m.

Firefighters could not enter the burning house to fight the flames from the inside because of the intensity of the fire and the risk of the structure’s collapse, said Deputy Chief Kevin Issel, who directed operations at the scene.

The fire was in a rural area without fire hydrants so water had to be hauled to the site. Firefighters tapped a 10,000-gallon underground water storage tank at a neighboring property, Issel said. They filled water tankers at other locations and refilled the cistern.

Another challenge was the surrounding dry vegetation. Ember showers from the house were initially blowing toward dry grass and other vegetation a short distance away from the house, Issel said.

Firefighters were concerned that the house fire would start a wildfire because of the dry conditions. Fortunately, the windy conditions of the past two days in the valley died down Monday night and Tuesday morning. Firefighters were able to work from the outside and control the flames without the fire spreading.

“We were really lucky,” Issel said.

Bradshaw noted that a “red flag warning” signifying high fire danger is forecast to begin as noon Tuesday and last until the evening.

“At about 7 a.m., the fire was reported as under control, but it is expected that crews will be on scene most of the day monitoring the structure,” a news release from Roaring Fork Fire Rescue said.

Issel said they couldn’t put the fire completely out, so it will likely continue to smolder through Tuesday. The firefighters remaining on scene will make sure no embers torch another fire, he said.

Jeff and Sam Frank of California own the two-story residence. It was a total loss.

Fire investigators from the fire department and Eagle County Sheriff’s Office were on the scene Tuesday morning. No cause had been determined as of 9 a.m., Bradshaw said.

Roaring Fork Fire Rescue responded with three engines, a water tender and 24 personnel. The neighboring fire departments from Carbondale and Aspen were called to the scene for assistance due to the size and intensity of the fire. That brought the total firefighting force to 30.

Firefighters used more than 30,000 gallons of water during the incident. The Eagle County Sheriff’s Office and Holy Cross Energy also assisted on the scene.

This is a developing story that will be updated.