Odd events lead to Basalt home fire
BASALT, Colorado ” A home was extensively damaged Wednesday after a fire broke out when a toddler apparently ignited a gas fireplace by accident, according to
Basalt Fire Chief Scott Thompson.
The odd circumstances resulted in smoke and water damage to the home of Scott and Allyson Russell at 48 River Bend Rd. in the Wingo Junction area, Thompson said. No one was injured in the blaze.
The fire investigation indicated that a toddler in the house touched the switch of a fireplace in the master bedroom on the second floor. The toddler was in the room alone. That triggered the automatic ignition and started the flame in the fireplace.
Unfortunately, there was a mattress leaning against the fireplace and a box spring pressing against the first mattress, Thompson said. The mattress next to the fireplace ignited and eventually triggered the home sprinkler system.
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The mattresses shielded the flame from the sprinkler water and allowed the fire to grow, so the heat built in the second floor of the 5,000-square-foot house until eight sprinkler heads were eventually triggered, Thompson said.
Firefighters were called to the scene at 8:45 a.m. and found smoke billowing out of the house. Firefighters reported that the smoke was so thick upon entry that they couldnt see their hands in front of them. “You feel like youre going into a black hole,” Thompson said.
Firefighters used a thermal imaging camera to pinpoint the source of the blaze. They were able to throw aside what remained of the box spring mattress to douse the fireplace flame and areas around the fireplace that were burned.
Thompson said there was “easily” $200,000 to $250,000 in damage to the house. The sprinkler system nearly drained its entire tank and water saturated the first and second floors and dripped all the way to the basement.
“If we didnt have sprinklers we would have lost the whole second floor,” Thompson said. “It holds the fire in check until we get there. Thats exactly what it did.”
The familys clothing and other belongs on the second floor suffered extensive smoke damage, Thompson said, and the house is uninhabitable. But Thompson said it was fortunate the incident wasnt a lot worse.
A baby-sitter for the Russells three children smelled the smoke and called Mrs. Russell, according to Thompson. She called 911 and told the baby-sitter to get the kids ” ages 3 years, 18 months and five weeks ” out of the house. Mrs. Russell drove the short distance from Basalt and found the fire in the master bedroom.