Eagle house fire turns fatal | VailDaily.com

Eagle house fire turns fatal

Sarah Mausolf
Vail, CO Colorado
CVR Eagle Fire DT 10-26-10

EAGLE, Colorado – One person died in a house fire Monday night in the Upper Kaibab subdivision east of Eagle, Eagle County deputy coroner Mike Kerst said.

He was withholding the name of the victim until authorities could confirm his identity. A press release from the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office said investigators believe the victim is John Forsyth, a 57-year-old renter at the home.

Kerst expects an autopsy to take place this week.

The home’s owner, Ryan Cox, said Forsyth was home when the fire broke out. Police have confirmed that two cars belonging to Forsyth were in the yard the night of the fire.

Describing him as a “good guy,” Cox said he has been friends with Forsyth for about 28 years. Forsyth works in the electrical department at Home Depot, Cox said.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation, Fire Marshal Tom Wagenlander said. It is also unclear where the fire started, he said.

The Eagle County Sheriff’s Office is conducting a criminal investigation to find out whether arson played a role, sheriff’s office spokeswoman Kim Andree said.

Police do not yet know whether the victim had been sleeping or whether there was another reason why he could not escape the blaze.

“We won’t know that until after an autopsy,” Andree said.

A neighbor reported the fire around 11 p.m. When officers arrived on the scene, they began to question neighbors about the owners and residents of the home, the press release said. While firemen began suppressing the fire on the outside, crews took their search inside the building, the release said. Unable to locate anyone, they left as the inside became too dangerous and hot to withstand, the release said. Officers located Cox, who said Forsyth might be inside the house if two of his cars were in the yard.

Firefighters battled the blaze until roughly 4 a.m. Tuesday, Greater Eagle Fire Protection District Chief Jon Jon Asper said.

Investigators found and removed a body around 10 a.m. Tuesday, the press release said.

Perched on a hill at 289 Green Mountain Drive, the charred two-story home was still standing Tuesday afternoon. However, the fire destroyed the inside of the house, fire district Capt. Bradley T. Jones said. He said flames were shooting out of the side of the house when he arrived at the scene.

Leslie Miller, a neighbor who lives downhill from the house in Upper Kaibab, said she had been watching TV Monday night when she heard what sounded like fireworks and ran outside to see what was going on.

“It looked like fireworks on the ground,” she said. “Then it just seemed like a lot of explosions that kept going on in the house.”

Police do not yet have a damage estimate available. The owners of the home have insurance, the release said.

Cox said he had been at an elk camp about 30 miles north of Kremmling when someone from the sheriff’s office called to tell him his house was on fire. He said he tried to drive home immediately but the roads were too bad.

“It was too late anyway,” he said, looking somberly toward his burned home Tuesday morning.

Fire officials led Cox closer to the house to help him recover his belongings, and after retrieving a few guns and bows from the home, Cox said he was no longer in the mood to answer questions and drove away.

The Greater Eagle Fire Protection District, Eagle County Sheriff’s Office, Eagle River Fire Protection District, Gypsum Fire Protection District and Western Eagle County Ambulance District responded.

Staff Writer Sarah Mausolf can be reached at 970-748-2928 or smausolf@vaildaily.com.

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