Fire engulfs multifamily home

Nine occupants of Christie Drive residence escape blaze unharmed

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— Nine people escaped but two dogs died early Tuesday morning in a Steamboat Springs house fire.

Twenty-three firefighters from the Steamboat Springs and West Routt fire departments got the fire under control at about 3 a.m. at a residence at 1910 Christie Drive.

The two-story house consisted of three rental units. Residents of one of the units reported the fire at 1:14 a.m.

"The occupants that live in the upper unit smelled smoke," Assistant Fire Chief Bob Struble said. "They looked outside, and the lower unit was already engulfed in flames."

Fire Marshal Jay Muhme and his fire prevention staff spent most of Tuesday at the home investigating the cause of the fire, which has not yet been determined.

As of Tuesday evening, fire officials were also trying to figure out how many people live at the home and track down the owner of the home.

Struble said at least nine people were in the home and all were able to get out safely.

"This morning they were making arrangements to stay with friends or in hotels," he said.

Struble said he is hopeful his department can gather up all the residents of the home to determine if they need assistance with housing.

Unlike the residents, two dogs were not able to escape from the brown, wooden home. The two pets were found in a first-floor bedroom.

"That was a bummer to find the dogs," Struble said. "The fire did not reach the bedroom, so they probably died of smoke inhalation."

To determine the cause of the fire, investigators are focusing on the lower unit of the home.

"Eyewitnesses have told us the fire started in the lower unit," Struble said.

By the time firefighters arrived at the scene, the lower and upper units of the home were engulfed in flames.

"It had a pretty good head start on us," Struble said.

Struble said the structure suffered extensive damage from the fire and smoke. He could not provide a monetary estimate of the damage.

"There are a couple of bedrooms that were totally damaged by the fire," Struble said. "There are other bedrooms that have heavy smoke damage."

To fight the blaze, 18 Steamboat Springs and five West Routt firefighters were at the scene.

Struble said firefighters had a tough time fighting the fire in subzero temperatures.

"The weather hampered us a little bit," Struble said.

As firefighters did mop up work for the fire, water in the hoses started to freeze, Struble said.

The weather was so cold that when firefighters started to clear the scene at about 6 a.m., the frozen hoses could not be rolled and had to be folded.

Struble said the fire was one of the biggest the department has fought in about a year.

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