Blaze destroys Old Town Steamboat duplex |

Blaze destroys Old Town Steamboat duplex

2 families displaced by fire at 4th and Oak streets

Nicole Inglis

The fire Saturday in the 200 block of Fourth Street started in the basement. Craig Stanton

— No one was injured when a duplex caught fire at about 4:20 p.m. Saturday at Fourth and Oak streets.

Steamboat Springs Police De­­­part­ment officers and Steam­boat Springs Fire Rescue crews responded and worked to control the blaze after nine people and a dog escaped from the smoke-filled structure.

Residents of the duplex said there might have been an explosion in the basement before the fire.

Jonah Men­­doza, 13, was visiting his cousins, who lived in one side of the duplex in the 200 block of Fourth Street.

"I was in the basement, like, next to a door, and I felt a heat wave, like a slap in the face," Jonah said. "I grabbed (the dog, Ozo) and got out."

Carlos Hernandez, 16, lives at the duplex with his mother, Hilda Cruz, his father and two sisters.

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He escaped with only the clothes on his back, he said.

"My mom heard an explosion coming from downstairs," he said. "We were in the bathroom talking, then we just heard everybody screaming."

Jorge Hernandez, who is not related to the other Hernandez family, lives with four other people in the other two-bedroom half of the duplex.

As Jorge Hernandez watched firefighters douse the final embers out in his home, he explained what happened while his friend Nivardo Diaz translated from Spanish.

"They were inside the house when they noticed smoke coming under the door of a room," Diaz said. "They ran out. They jumped out through the windows."

Diaz said that the house recently had been foreclosed on and that Jorge Hernandez recently had received a notice to evacuate within two weeks.

The fire started in the basement of the duplex, but Fire Marshal Jay Muhme said the cause still was unknown about an hour after crews responded.

He only could guess at the extent of the damage.

"I'm pretty sure they're totaled," Muhme said.

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