The cause of a structure fire reported just before 5 a.m. Tuesday that completely destroyed a house on Upper Cattle Creek Road in Carbondale is still unknown, but no foul play is suspected.
Jeff and Sam Frank, the owners of the 5,061-square-foot property, told Roaring Fork Fire Rescue Authority Deputy Chief Pete Bradshaw that they’d been undergoing an extensive remodel on the house.
“It had a new deck that had just been installed on the outside. Per the homeowner, they had just finished drywall and paint and were just getting ready to start the electrical, so pretty far along,” he said.
According to Realtor.com, the five-bedroom home at 5509 Upper Creek Cattle Road was worth about $1.37 million, based on tax assessment records and recent listing prices of similar properties in the area. Because of the renovations, the house was unoccupied at the time of the fire.
“There was nobody living there,” Bradshaw said.
It took about two hours for fire crews to get the flames under control, but personnel remained on scene through much of the afternoon to ensure no flare ups.
“At about 7, we had it under control, but really, the bulk of our crews left about an hour ago,” Bradshaw said around 3 p.m. Tuesday.
RFFRA responded to the call with 24 personnel, three fire engines and a water tender; because the rural area does not have hydrants, water had to be hauled. Carbondale and Rural Fire Protection District and Aspen Fire Protection District also assisted, providing an additional six people to control the fire. Extinguishment required more than 30,000 gallons of water. Both Holy Cross Energy and Eagle County Sheriff’s Office investigators were on scene to aid firefighting efforts.
Though both RFFRA and the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office investigators initially worked to determine a cause for the fire, the homeowner’s insurance company will take the lead on future investigations. RFFRA will take a supportive role to those endeavors. A public information officer from Eagle County was not immediately available to comment for this story.
On Monday, the Pitkin County Alert System issued an announcement that a red flag warning would be in effect in Pitkin and Eagle Counties Tuesday from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. for “high winds and extreme fire conditions.”
A red flag warning is just that — a warning, Bradshaw explained.
“Basically, what it tells the public is, we’re not saying you shouldn’t do the things you would normally do, but do them with extra caution,” he said. “If you’re going to have charcoal in your grill, [it’s] probably a really good night to make sure you extinguish it completely. It’s really an awareness thing, saying one little thing that would have been no problem three days ago might be a huge problem this afternoon.”