Fire consumes East Orchard Mesa garage
A fire leveled a prominent Mesa County artist’s garage, destroyed one car and damaged a truck early Monday evening, but left her home and studio relatively unscathed.
Fine artist Mary Mansfield had just returned to her East Orchard Mesa home from running errands in Grand Junction and was contemplating a glass of wine when she heard “popping.”
She ran outside, husband and poodle in tow, saw the fire in the garage, and called 911.
“It went so fast,” Mansfield said, standing on 38¼ Road near the smoldering ruins of her garage. “That was so scary.”
Dane Van Loon, assistant chief of the East Orchard Mesa Fire Protection District, said his department got a call at 4:57 p.m.
“By the time we got on scene, the fire was fully involved,” he said as firefighters continued to dig into the pile of charred rubble to release trapped heat. Wind was blowing from the north and the fire was hot and had started to spread to a Toyota Tundra parked outside, Van Loon said.
“The hard part about garages is you don’t know as the oncoming crew … what is in there,” he said, adding that hazardous materials like paint or lacquer can present additional risk.
Palisade Fire crews responded to help and crews were able to knock down the blaze before it spread to houses nearby. A car parked in the garage was destroyed, while the truck was damaged on the right side and bumper.
The cause of the fire is under investigation, Van Loon said.
Mansfield said she thought the garage was gone within about five minutes of when she came outside.
Mansfield, who has lived in the house on the “shelf” overlooking Palisade for about 23 years, said she worried initially about her artwork.
“I was going, ‘Oh no, not the studio,’ ” she said.
But, she said, she and her husband are safe, and Luna the poodle evacuated with them. The children weren’t at the house and her grandson was off playing football. The only person hurt was a firefighter who tripped and fell.
Even had the house been more damaged, the most important things were safe, Mansfield said.
“It’s a house,” she said. “It’s a thing.”