Fire rekindles, does further damage to home in Rifle

A Rifle Fire Protection District official says firefighters feel badly about a home fire that rekindled and expanded into the living quarters after it appeared to be out.

But fire marshal Kevin Whelan said firefighters had taken numerous precautions to prevent such an incident, and their efforts were foiled by a windstorm that blew in Monday morning.

The fire, at the Rhodes resident at 132 Daniel Ave., broke out in a garage Sunday afternoon and spread into an attic. Firefighters knocked it down and kept it from spreading further at that point, although the living quarters suffered smoke and water damage.

Crews used bare hands and thermal imaging to check for hot spots before leaving about 9 p.m. Sunday, and returned that night to go up on the roof and check again. A security guard then made hourly checks later that night, and checked right after the windstorm arrived shortly after 4 a.m. But then at 5 a.m. he noticed an orange glow in a window and called 911.

A Rifle police officer was the first to arrive, and already flames were visible in the roof.

Whelan said winds reached 31 mph, with gusts that exceeded 40 mph and may have reached 50 to 60 mph.

“With that wind, in all honesty, put wind to a little spark and you know what, it’s going to take off,” Whelan said.

He said the west side of the living quarters now has fire damage, as does the rest of the roof, and he believes an insurance adjuster will declare the home a total loss.

“A rekindle on a fire does not make a fireman’s day. Our response crews feel pretty down about that rekindle,” he said.

Still, he thought firefighters did an outstanding job fighting the initial blaze and trying to prevent any restart of the fire.

“It was just a wind change with tremendous winds,” he said.

He said an investigation into the fire’s cause continues, but criminal activity has been ruled out.


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