Blaze contained to one unit; family forced to move to hotel
Residents of two apartment units returned home and a third family is staying in a hotel after a fire on Monday morning forced them out of their building.
None of the Zapata family was at home when the fire broke out in the kitchen of the family’s unit of the complex at 1800 Main St.
Five firefighting units and 18 firefighters snuffed the blaze, which started in Unit A1 about 11:30 a.m.
Fire Capt. Mike Kelley said the fire began in a stove area of the kitchen, which was consumed by flames. He said there was extensive smoke damage to the rest of the apartment.
Smoke damage also was reported in adjacent apartments, Kelley said, but there was no immediate estimate of damages.
The Zapata family waited outside as firefighters extinguished the smoky blaze, as did their upstairs neighbors, without immediate news about when they could return to their units.
Francisco Zapata sat with his head in his hands while firefighters shuffled in and out of his apartment, clearing the structure.
Zapata said he was at his job as a maintenance man and his daughter, Mariela, said the rest of the family was dealing with their income taxes elsewhere when the fire apparently broke out.
The Zapatas were lodged in a Grand Junction hotel and given some money for food and clothing, said Scott Cline, emergency services program manager for the Grand Junction office of the Red Cross.
The southern section of the apartment complex required evacuation, but a fire break kept the northern section of the complex from having to be evacuated, Kelley said.
Colby Kostur, their upstairs neighbor, said he noticed the smell of cooking food soon before the fire.
A fire alarm went off soon after, and Kostur said he saw smoke coming out an open window next to the Zapatas’ front door.
No one answered when he knocked and he called 911 then, said Kostur, a freshman at Mesa State College.
Kostur and a neighbor on the top level above the Zapatas were allowed to return to their units later on Monday.
A new unit was to be ready in a day or two for the Zapatas, Cline said.