Smoke and flames poured out of the windows of Room 11 on Wednesday morning at the Craig Motel, just as Craig Fire/Rescue arrived on the scene.
Fire Chief Bill Johnston described his first look at the scene with two words: "Flame on."
Firefighters spent almost four hours from the time they got there at 11:36 a.m. containing the fire, which eventually was extinguished about 3 p.m.
There were no reported injuries during the incident, which department officials determined was caused by a faulty wall-mounted heater.
The firefighters' initial focus was on Room 11, which seemed to be the center of the fire.
Using chainsaws, the crew cut into the roof, releasing plumes of smoke.
Firefighters hoped to stop the fire from spreading into the insulation, but by 1 p.m. the roof was smoking.
From there, Johnston said the fire spread latterly from room to room because there were no fire-stops in the ceiling.
Fire stops are required by city code to prevent such damage, but Johnston said the motel was probably built before the code was in place, so they weren't required.
There appeared to be extensive damage to Room 11, as well as the roof of the structure.
The room was being rented, Johnston said, however no one was inside.
The fire caused extensive damage to 16 rooms, from Room 5 on the northernmost side to Room 21 on the south.
Craig Motel does not have a Room 13.
The motel's roof partially collapsed because of the damage.
Craig Fire/Rescue, West Routt Fire Department, Craig Police Department, Moffat County Sheriff's Office, state and city road and bridge departments and Colorado State Patrol responded to the call.
"We had to call in West Routt Fire Department because of the intensity of the fire," Johnston said, "and because of the size of the fire and jobs that need to get done."
Johnston said extra personnel were needed for safety purposes, as well.
Sections of Yampa Avenue from Eighth Street to Ninth Street were closed as crews battled the blaze.
Craig Middle School was on yellow lockdown during lunch hour because of the fire.
Middle school and Sandrock Elementary School students who walk to school were released early at 3:15 p.m. to bypass the area.
Craig Fire/Rescue left the scene at 5:45 p.m.