Fire destroys RV on Rabbit Ears Pass

No one injured in mishap

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— A fire destroyed a California man's motor home and damaged his car Saturday afternoon on Rabbit Ears Pass.

Joe Dertinger of Lake Forest, Calif., was driving the motor home to New Jersey to visit his daughter. He was towing his car behind the motor home.

He said he pulled over near the west summit of the pass on U.S. Highway 40 when he noticed the engine was overheating.

The motor home caught fire shortly after Dertinger stopped near mile marker 147. He had exited the RV and was eating lunch when he saw flames, he said.

Dertinger was not injured in the incident. Passing motorists informed police of the blaze.

Flames had moved to the car behind the RV by the time firefighters arrived.

Half a dozen firefighters tackled the towed vehicle first to prevent further damage to the car, volunteer firefighter Bobby Carlomagno said. The intense heat shattered the car's windshield and ruined its engine.

The motor home was beyond saving. Mop-up efforts took about an hour and a half. The debris was extensive. "There were pieces of it all over the place," Carlomagno said.

Authorities closed U.S. Highway 40 for half an hour and permitted only one lane of traffic for another 45 minutes before reopening the highway, said Trooper Chris Tafoya of the Colorado State Patrol.

Fire investigators are looking into the cause of the fire, fire investigator Scott Andre said

Dertinger was in good spirits despite his loss. He said he was thankful to have walked away from the incident unharmed. The retired New York police officer said he intends to stick around a few days while things are sorted out. Then he will fly back to California and "start all over again."

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