Steamboat Springs South Routt firefighters fought a house fire for about four and a half hours early Wednesday but couldn't prevent an under-construction home from burning to the ground on Wenatchi Trail outside of Oak Creek.
The approximately 3,000-square-foot home about seven miles up Lynx Pass Road was engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived on the scene, Oak Creek Fire Protection District Chief Chuck Wisecup said.
"Our main goal at that point was just to protect the surrounding woodland and try to salvage the foundation for him, at least," Wisecup said.
Robert Dowling, a Routt County resident who has spent the past year and a half building the house, said the project was about 75 percent complete before the fire. Dowling is living in a camper on the lot, Wisecup said, and awoke Wednesday morning to find his project in flames.
"I was awoken at 4 a.m. with light coming through the window, and the house was fully engulfed," Dowling said. Dowling, who is from Ireland and has lived in Routt County for five years, planned to live in the house when it was complete. He estimated the value of the three-bedroom, three-bath home at between $300,000 and $350,000.
The cause of the fire is under investigation, Wisecup said. Fourteen firefighters from Oak Creek and Yampa responded to the incident, but the closest source of water for extinguishing the blaze was about half a mile away, Wisecup said.
"There was nothing to save when we got there," he said. One of the first possible causes investigators will look at is a wood stove that had been warming the house Tuesday but appeared to be out by that evening, Wisecup said.
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