Harpers 'lucky' in fire

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Clora Harper was mopping the kitchen while her husband, Paul, was piddling around in the garage last Wednesday morning when she smelled something odd. She soon recognized the smell as something burning.

The couple's Rottweiler, Lakota, was quiet, but Clora Harper said she felt something strange was going on. Just as she was about to go out to the garage to ask her husband if he smelled anything, he walked out of the garage and saw smoke billowing from the side of their house at 175 S. Shelton Lane.

Paul Harper yelled to call the fire department. It was 9:27 a.m.

In about five minutes, an ambulance and six firetrucks carrying 10 firefighters from the West Routt Fire Protection District arrived to spray down the smoking side of the house before flames were visible, said West Routt Fire Protection District Chief Bryan Rickman.

The fire was caused by an electrical short in a cable television connection box in the northwest corner of the roof of the Harpers' home, Rickman said.

Firefighters attacked the fire by pulling off two sheets of tin roofing and tearing into the roof to pour water into the attic space where the fire had begun to take hold.

The side of the house that was damaged was the area of the Harpers' dining room and a bedroom that was mostly used for storage. The fire was hot enough to melt a vinyl window casing in the bedroom, but the curtains on the inside of the window were unharmed, Clora Harper said. Also, no memorable or priceless belongings were damaged in the fire, which was put out quickly.

"We couldn't be luckier or more fortunate," she said. "We lost nothing. We weren't in bed asleep, where it really could have got going. If you can have a good fire, this was probably it."

The Harpers said their homeowners insurance would take care of the cost of rebuilding, which will require taking the burned side down to the studs. However, building inspectors said Monday that more of the house may have to be rebuilt than planned because much of the back side of the roof and siding was singed. Therefore, a dollar amount for the damage has not yet been determined.

"The fire department was excellent," said Clora Harper, a former member of the department's board of directors. "They couldn't have done better."

-- To reach Nick Foster call 871-4204

or e-mail nfoster@steamboatpilot.com

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