On the evening of Feb. 22, firefighters with Upper Pine River Fire Protection responded to a house fire near Bayfield, Colorado.
By the time they arrived, the building was 70% engulfed in flames, and the structure, having been burned previously, was incredibly unsafe.
“Upper Pine River arrived to find a fully involved structure fire at approximately 5 p.m. on CR 523,” a Facebook post from the Upper Pine River Fire Protection read.
“This house had burned before and was structurally unsound with a basement. Crews remained defensive on this fire as the floor had burned away creating a death tramp for firefighters to fall through the floor into the basement with heavy fire.”
While the dogs were unharmed, the cat was not doing well. Firefighters had to resuscitate it using a pet oxygen mask, but once they revived it, it appeared to be doing well.
All three animals were taken by the Southern Ute Shelter, and according to one firefighter, the cat is “probably looking for a nice home.”
“Firefighter/EMT Bryce Jenkin rescuing a cat from the 523 fire, a donor had given Upper Pine some animal oxygen mask a few years ago which we are putting to use,” Upper Pine River Fire Protection shared in another post.
“Cat was revieved and is at the Southern Ute shelter.”
Chief of the Upper Pine River Fire Protection District Bruce Evans said that the next day they were trying to figure out how the fire started.
It was unclear who — if anyone — was living in the home as it is owned by the Southern Ute Indian Tribe and is currently “assigned” to somebody.
At the time of the fire, the house had no power and no running water, but someone had managed to connect it to power anyway. The area was littered with trash and debris, including empty chemical containers and propane tanks.
“We’re really not sure what was going on in there,” Evans said. “We’re suspicious that there was probably some illegal activity going on in there.”
Later, a woman came forward saying she didn’t live there but had been raising dogs on the property.
“Her story was that she had started a fire in the fireplace and it had gotten out of the fireplace and caught some other stuff on fire,” Evans explained. “She said that by the time she noticed the fire had gotten out of the fireplace, the whole room was involved in fire.”
The house was completely destroyed by the fire, and the remains of the structure were pushed into the basement with a bulldozer.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.