High-value fire on Union Pass under probe; 'not suspicious'

Dec 16, 2013 By Katie Roenigk, Staff Writer

A private residence on Union Pass was destroyed Thursday in a fire on Crooked Creek Road.

No one was injured in the blaze, which was reported just after 4 p.m. Thursday by someone at the nearby Crooked Creek Guest Ranch.

The reporting party said there was "a lot of black smoke" in the area.

When fire officials arrived at the scene a few minutes later, they said a large cabin at 49 Crooked Creek Road was engulfed in flames and partially collapsed, with "explosions going off inside."

"This building had such a fire load inside, it was unreal," Dubois fire chief Mike Frantini said.

"It was a very large shop with an apartment in it, and in the shop area there were propane tanks, several gallons of gasoline, several snow mobiles, four wheelers, ATV's, a bobcat, a forklift -- everything (was destroyed)."

He said the homeowner lives out of state and wasn't present at the time of the blaze, which is under investigation due to the high value of the property that was damaged.

"It doesn't appear to be suspicious," Frantini said.

He couldn't comment on the cause of the fire, but he said the building was a total loss.

Five units from Dubois responded to the blaze, with mutual aid from five units of the Fremont County Fire Protection District.

"We did have problems with water due to the fact it's winter conditions up there," he said. "That's why we had so many water vendors, for water supply."

Frantini said crews used hand lines to take a defensive stance against the fire.

The 24 firefighters cleared the scene at about 10 p.m. Thursday, and they returned Friday morning to assist with the ongoing investigation.

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