A fast-moving fire destroyed a family’s home at 30168 County Road H Sunday morning.
All four people and pets in the two-story home were safely evacuated, and no one was injured, said Cortez Fire Protection District Chief Jay Balfour. But the Martin family home was a total loss.
Based on witness accounts, it appears the fire started near the wood stove, Balfour said.
The fire was reported at 5:19 a.m. Sunday on the east end of Road H, a remote area at the base of the Mesa Verde escarpment.
When Cortez Fire Protection District crews first arrived, the house was engulfed in flames, including coming through the roof. Balfour said fire crews took a defensive approach and successfully prevented the fire from spreading to a nearby garage, propane tank and vehicle.
“It was a heavy fire and too dangerous to send anyone inside,” he said. “Everyone got out safely.”
Temperatures of minus 3 degrees made the fire challenging to fight and caused water lines to partially freeze. Torches were used to keep valves working and the water flowing.
Twenty firefighters fought the blaze, including multiple engines and water tenders. Mutual aid was provided by fire departments from Dolores, Mancos and Lewis-Arriola. The Montezuma County Sheriff’s Office and Southwest Health System ambulance also responded to the scene.
The home was resided in by Alvin Martin, two children ages 11 and 13, and their father.
One of the children smelled smoke and alerted the rest of the family, Balfour said, and they all fled. One of the adult residents made a brief attempt to fight the fire, but it was already out of control on the first floor when they escaped.
“They are very lucky the daughter woke everyone up,” Balfour said.
The Western Colorado Chapter of the American Red Cross provided assistance to the family, said Dick Simmons, disaster program manager and volunteer partner. The family was provided with a debit card with funds for temporary housing, clothes, food, personal items and gas.
“It’s been very traumatic for the family. They lost everything, including their Christmas presents,” he said. “The Red Cross will continue to work with the family as they plan for the long-term recovery of this disaster.”
The family did not have homeowners insurance, officials said.