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Last updated 10:54AM ET
December 17, 2017
KSUT Regional
KSUT Regional
3 Durango Businesses Burn, 7 Firefighters Injured
(2008-02-23)
(ksut) - HOST LEAD: A fire that swept through in downtown Durango destroyed 3 buildings yesterday afternoon left 7 firefighters injured.

KSUT's Sarah Baumgartner reports.

*SOUNDS FROM THE FIREFIGHTERS.*

SARAH: That sound you here is fire fighters dumping an immense amount of water on a blaze the destroyed three buildings yesterday on the east side of the 700 block of Main Avenue in downtown Durango.
The fire was extinguished as of 6:00 last night.
Today authorities have closed the 700 block of Main Avenue to both traffic and pedestrians for at least all of Saturday. The east alley on the backside of the 700 block of Main Avenue will likely be closed as well.
Four separate fire station including Durango Fire and Rescue Authority assisted in diminishing the flames at Seasons Grille and Rotiserrie, Half Priced Tees and Le Rendezvous. Other organizations assisting were Upper Pine Fire, Los Pinos Fire and Florida Mesa Fire.
According to Dave Abercrombie with the DFRA, all 7 firefighters sustained non-life threatening injuries after an explosion that occurred at Le Rendezvous. Three of which were blown from the rooftop of Le Rendezvous. The explosion tossed bricks, glass and other debris onto Main Avenue.
According to Tom Cofffman, Fire inspector for Durango Fire and Rescue Authority the fire began at Season Grille, which possibly started in the attic.
TOM COFFMAN: THE FIRE APPEARS TO HAVE STARTED IN THE ATTIC SPACE OR IN THE VENTING SPACE OVER THE RESTAURANT AT SEASONS WHERE THE EXHAUST IS. WE HAVE A COMMON ATTIC OR AN ATTIC THAT'S INTERCONNECTED WITH SOME BEAMS OVER THE NEXT BUILDING AND THE NEXT BUILDINGS. SO WE HAVE THREE BUILDINGS BETWEEN TWO TALLER BUILDINGS WHERE WE HAVE INTERCONNECTED VOID SPACES. AND THEN AS WE REMODEL BUILDINGS WHAT HAPPENS IS THEY DON'T LIKE THE CEILING LOOK SO THEY'LL DROP A CEILING. THEY'LL FRAME IT IN AND PUT ANOTHER CEILING IN. SO A LOT OF THESE OLD BUILDINGS HAVE MULTIPLE CEILINGS AND MULTIPLE HIDDEN SPACES.
Jon Dunn, a 25-year veteran fire fighter who assisted on the scene compares this fire to blazes he's fought in the past.
JON DUNN: THIS IS JUST AS BAD AS THE TURN OF THE CENTURY BUILDING FIRE THAT WE HAD WHERE THAT WHOLE MALL BURNT OUT. AND THAT WAS AN ARSON FIRE SET IN FIVE DIFFERENT PLACES. THIS IS NOT QUITE AS BAD AS THE MAIN STREET FIRE, WHICH TOOK OUT MOST OF A BLOCK BECAUSE OF SHARED BUILDING TRESSES AND FLOOR SUPPORTS THAT SPREAD FROM BUILDING TO BUILDING. AND WHERE WE ALSO LOST TWO LIVES. THE LIFE OF A FIREFIGHTER AND A POLICEMAN.
Coffman goes on to further explain the possibilities of why the explosion occurred at Le Rendezvous.
COFFMAN: THERE'S WHAT'S CALLED A BACK DRAFT EXPLOSION. THAT'S WERE YOU HAVE A FIRE THAT'S BUILDING PRESSURE IN THE BUILDING. IT WASN'T VENTING PROPERLY. A BACK DRAFT IS CAUSED BY SMOKE AND HEAT PARTICLES BUILDING UP INCLUDING CARBON MONOXIDE. NOT ONLY IS CARBON MONOXIDE A DEADLY TOXIC GAS, BUT IT'S ALSO A VERY FLAMMABLE AND EXPLOSIVE GAS. IF IT BUILDS UP TO A CERTAIN POINT AND THEN IT GETS ENOUGH AIR BECAUSE IT WAS STARVING FOR AIR AND WE GET A BREATH OF AIR GOING IN THAT COULD POSSIBLY BE IT. AND THERE'S A CHANCE THERE'S A BUILD UP OF GAS IN THERE AS WELL. SO IT'S BETWEEN A GAS EXPLOSION WITH NATURAL GAS AND A BACK DRAFT.
ACCORDING TO ABERCROMBIE, IT MAY take a day or so for the official cause of the fire to be released.
During the fire, Renee Parsons, Durango City Counselor and I watched the blaze being fought through an enormous cloud of smoke.
RENEE PARSONS: LOOK AT THAT I MEAN THAT IS JUST FEROCIOUS AND INTENSE FIRE.

From KSUT Four Corners Public Radio.
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