Cause of fire still unknown

Officials rule out arson in blaze that killed two dogs

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— The cause of a fire that fully engulfed a two-story house earlier this week is still a mystery but authorities said Thursday they do not suspect arson.

The fire that erupted early Tuesday morning at 1910 Christie Dr. destroyed much of the home and killed two dogs but residents of the rental units escaped unharmed.

By the end of today, Steamboat Springs Fire Marshal Jay Muhme said he expected to wrap up his investigation into the blaze.

"At this point, there is nothing to suggest that the fire is suspicious," Muhme said Thursday.

The fire, which was the largest the Steamboat Springs Fire Department has fought in about a year, took nearly six hours to extinguish.

"It appears the house is a total loss," Muhme said. "I will not know that until I meet with insurance investigators."

Muhme said he expected to meet with insurance officials today to go through the brown, wooden home that had been transformed into three rental units.

At this point, Muhme said he had not been able to pinpoint the exact cause of the fire. However, he suspects the fire originated in the first-floor unit near the fireplace. The fire damaged a majority of the lower unit and the upper unit. The blaze also caused extensive damage to some bedrooms. Substantial smoke damage permeated a majority of the house.

Residents living in the upper unit reported the blaze. The eight residents who live in one of the three rental units were able to make it out of the house.

However, two dogs died in a first-floor bedroom. The fire did not reach the bedroom the dogs were trapped in but the pets died of smoke inhalation.

Since the fire, residents have been going through the home to see if they can salvage any personal belongings.

Steamboat Springs Assistant Fire Chief Bob Struble said the fire did not damage some belongings like bicycles and skis.

Most of the residents have found alternative places to live, however, some residents have needed assistance from the Red Cross, Muhme said.

By the time 18 firefighters from the Steamboat department arrived at the scene, the home's lower and upper units were engulfed in flames.

"The fire seemed to progress rapidly but that is not unusual because it is an old house," Muhme said.

Five West Routt firefighters assisted the Steamboat department with extinguishing the fire in subzero temperatures.

The fire was reported at 12:14 a.m., and crews started to leave the scene at about 6 a.m.

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