Welding mishap blamed in fire

People, at lower left, salvage what they can from a large metal barn on fire Sunday morning at 3177 B Road. Animals were evacuated from the barn, and there were no injuries reported. The barn was estimated to be a total loss.

A Sunday morning fire gutted a roughly 50-foot by 50-foot metal barn in an apparent welding accident on Orchard Mesa, authorities said.

Central Orchard Mesa Fire Department Chief David Gitchell said the property owner at 3177 B Road reported he’d been cutting iron with various welding equipment inside the barn and had briefly walked back to his house on the 35-acre spread to get a snack.

Later, he heard popping sounds coming the barn.

“It (fire) was already running by that time,” said Gitchell, estimating the barn to be a total loss.

The property is owned by Tom Grunkmeyer, according to Mesa County Assessor records.

Initial 911 reports at 11:40 a.m. said flames were shooting through the roof. Several people at the scene scrambled to evacuate animals from the barn.

Witnesses described hearing several small explosions from inside the barn, which, aside from welding gear, was said to have held several vehicles.

An assortment of tanks, oxygen and propane, were situated outside the barn, according to police scanner traffic.

No injuries were reported, Gitchell said.

Firefighters and other resources from Grand Junction Fire Department’s Station Four were called to help battle the blaze, which briefly shut down B Road. Firefighters were still cleaning the scene at 4:30 p.m.


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