By Clayton Chaney
Last Tuesday, Nov. 24, the Archuleta County Combined Dispatch Center received a call regarding a travel trailer that had caught on fire at a residence on 7th Street.
According to Capt. Kelly Robertson, Pagosa Fire Protection District (PFPD) fire prevention director, the call was received at 3:04 a.m. and crews arrived with water on the scene by 3:14 a.m.
Robertson noted that a total of 10 firefighters arrived on the scene, some being volunteers that were not on shift but who still responded.
Robertson explained that every volunteer has a pager which relays calls received from dispatch. PFPD also uses a mobile app called Active 911 which alerts volunteers on their cellphones when a call comes in. The alert contains the location of the incident, allowing for responders to map out where they need to go.
Robertson spoke to the importance of having these systems to relay calls in order to get personnel on site as quick as possible.
“Sometimes your next door neighbor is a volunteer and on a call like that, they could be the first one’s there,” Robertson said.
According to Robertson, two people were staying in the trailer and were able to make it out with no injuries. Residents staying in the house on the same property were also safe from the fire. However, there was a family dog staying in the trailer that perished.
The two residents staying in the trailer reported the fire. One resident attempted to save the dog from the burning trailer while the other resident called 911, according to Robertson.
“The dog was found deceased and that was a really hard thing for everybody that was there,” she said.
Robertson explained that crews initially directed water hoses in between the trailer and the house in order to prevent flames from spreading to the residence. The house was slightly scorched on one side, but no major damage was done to the residence.
“The crews did a great job at stopping the fire and not allowing the fire to extend to the residence,” Robertson said.
Three fire engines, two chief vehicles and one investigation vehicle responded to the scene, according to Robertson.
Robertson explained how, fortunately, crews were able to connect to a fire hydrant that was relatively close to the scene. This allowed for the crews to initially use more water than what is carried on the trucks.
According to Robertson, crews cleared the scene by 5:07 a.m.
As part of Robertson’s job, she is responsible for determining a cause for the fire. An official report has yet to be released, but Robertson commented, “I’m not feeling like it’s suspicious in nature by any means.”
Robertson noted that it is still an ongoing investigation.
She went on to explain some of the process she uses when determining the cause of a fire.
Robertson explained that she formulates multiple hypotheses of how the fire could’ve been started and, based on the evidence that’s left, she attempts to disprove each hypothesis in order to rule out possible options and narrow down to an exact cause.
According to Robertson, it was reported that there was a space heater on inside the trailer.
Robertson offered some safety tips regarding space heaters.
Robertson mentioned that, if using older space heaters, consider replacing them with newer ones that have updated safety features.
Robertson mentioned that many of the newer space heaters have a knock-over safety protection that will shut the heater off if it falls over.
Additionally, it is important not to place heaters near anything combustible and to make sure they are plugged in directly to a wall outlet and not through an extension cord.