Family escapes fire

Garage lost in Blue Sage blaze

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— A blackened Toyota RAV was the only personal belonging that could be identified Monday night in Brett and Christine Lee's garage.

Surrounding the once white car were charred remains of a garage that a fire had destroyed.

None of the five people inside the home, nor the family dog, was hurt in the fire.

Firefighters responded to the Lees' home, 425 Blue Sage Court, at about 8:30 p.m.

"The garage was fully engulfed when we got here," said Assistant Fire Chief Bob Struble. "The garage is a total loss. There is smoke damage in the home but no fire damage."

The cause of the fire is under investigation, but authorities believe a fireplace in the living room that is next to the garage could be where the fire originated.

"We will investigate to make sure that was the cause of the fire," said fire investigator Jim Cooley.

The evening started out typical for the Lees. A fire was started in the fireplace about 7:30 p.m.

"It was a normal night," said Christine Lee, who watched firefighters work on her home of eight years from the road. "We were starting to take the ornaments off the Christmas tree when the electricity went out."

Brett, Christine's husband of 13 years, went into the garage to find out what was going on with the power and discovered a burning fire.

Immediately, Brett, his wife, two children and father-in-law evacuated the home. After all the people were out, Lee went back in to retrieve the family's dog, Sage.

Lee, who owns Straightline Outdoor Sports in downtown Steamboat Springs with his twin brother, was treated at the scene for smoke inhalation.

Christine believes the fire in the fireplace is to blame for the blaze.

"The chimney is against the garage," she said. "Somehow the chimney caught the wall to the garage on fire."

Brett was grateful that firefighters responded quickly to the home and knocked down the flames.

"They did a good job," he said of the more than 20 firefighters who swarmed to his home. "We have an excellent fire department."

The fire was starting to spread when firefighters arrived.

"The fire had vented itself out and was working its way to the back of the home," Struble said.

Firefighters immediately doused the fire using water from a two-and-a-half-inch hose. Water from a second hose was sprayed on a neighboring home that suffered minor damage to its vinyl siding, Struble said.

"We got the bulk of the flames down in a couple of minutes," Struble said.

Once the flames were out, firefighters checked to see if the garage was smoldering. They ripped up the roof to make sure there were no hot spots in the attic.

As firefighters worked on the home, Christine Lee watched from the road, wiping away tears. Friend after friend came over to console her with hugs and offers to put the family up for the night.

A neighbor made arrangements for her family to stay in a local condominium.

As firefighters worked in the garage, all Lee could do was shake her head in disbelief at the destruction the fire caused.

"Look at my car," she said of the charred vehicle.

At about 9:30 p.m., some firefighters began to pack up their equipment in an engine and aerial truck that responded to the fire. Struble expected firefighters would start to leave the scene at about 10 p.m.

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