Turn-of-the-century De Beque home destroyed

Fire began in kitchen, burned hot and quickly

Firefighters mop up after a fire destroyed a home at 317 Denver St., in De Beque on Wednesday.

One of De Beque’s original turn-of-the century homes was destroyed by fire Wednesday, but no one was injured in the blaze.

Homeowner Elda Hiatt was leaving the house, 317 Denver St., at about 10:30 a.m. and had just stepped off the front porch when she turned and saw the flames, De Beque Fire Protection District Chief Nick Marx said.

The fire started in the kitchen and burned hot and fast because of an abundance of items in the home, he said.

Marx said he had warned Hiatt about the home’s hazardous conditions with its “shoulder-wide” paths for walking and rooms that were stacked with items from the floor to the ceiling.

“Every newspaper or magazine that ever existed was in there,” Marx said. “I knew if it ever caught fire, it was going to burn to the ground.”

Marx said Hiatt lost some valuable antiques in the blaze. The home’s entire contents burned, and the roof caved in, leaving the home’s charred skeletal structure exposed.

Hiatt was staying with Marx’s wife on Wednesday as firefighters spent hours attempted to extinguish the smoldering blaze. Smoke from the fire was visible from Interstate 70. The American Red Cross arrived to offer assistance.

Heat from the blaze threatened the neighbor’s home, which coincidentally is owned by De Beque firefighter Forest Matis. After the blaze broke a window at Matis’ home, firefighters sprayed down the home’s side with water. Matis entered his home to remove curtains from the windows nearest the blaze. By the afternoon, Matis was perched on the Fire Department’s ladder truck spraying water on Hiatt’s home.

“He was a little jittery,” Marx said about Matis’ reaction to the spreading fire.

De Beque’s crew of six paid firefighters and three of the six volunteer firefighters battled the blaze. Six firefighters from Plateau Valley Fire Department also fought the fire. The last house fire in De Beque occurred about a year ago, Marx said

Marx said Hiatt has many friends around town and described her as an independent, elderly woman. Attempts to reach Hiatt on Wednesday were unsuccessful.

“She’s a very sweet, old woman,” Marx said.


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