Steamboat Springs Investigators were probing the charred remains of a condominium at The Ridge Wednesday, looking for the cause of a fire that forced the evacuation of 16 people in the early morning hours on Monday.
An agent from the Colorado Bureau of Investigation joined Steamboat Springs Fire Marshall Jay Muhme at the site Wednesday.
In addition, personnel from Phoenix Investigations, representing State Farm Insurance, were on the scene. State Farm covered some of the condo units and property involved, John Shipley of Johnston Shipley Management said.
Muhme sought the assistance of the CBI after some aspects of the blaze aroused his suspicion. Muhme felt the fire spread exceptionally quickly. He also took note of the fact that condo Unit 7, where the fire is believed to have started, had been empty for a month. Those factors, combined with extenuating circumstances he declined to elaborate on, led Muhme to conclude there's a possibility that the fire was deliberately set.
Muhme could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.
Documents on file at the Routt County Assessor's office show the owner of Unit 7 is Robert W. Egizii of Springfield, Ill.
Other owners of the eight condo units at The Ridge include Charles M. Repa, Bernadette Aiello Living Trust, Philip and Susan James, Thomas and Mary Lee Riley, Leon Steinberg, David Charles Cunningham Jr., and the Caprara Revocable Trust.
Shipley's company manages rentals of the condominium units at The Ridge. He said the building has not been "released," and he and the various owners had not been back on the premises on Wednesday.
Firefighters from the Steamboat Springs Fire Department responded to The Ridge on Storm Meadows Drive between 3:30 a.m. and 4 a.m. Monday to find tall flames leaping out of the roof of the building. They were joined by firefighters form the West Routt Fire Protection District.
The firefighters' combined efforts were largely successful in preventing the flames from spreading to the other seven units in the building. In addition to Unit 7, two others sustained limited fire damage. A total of four units sustained water damage. Four of the units were relatively undamaged.
Three of the eight, four-bedroom condos were occupied when the fire broke out. The 16 people were safely evacuated with the help of a guard from Security Plus.
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