An early-morning fire in early December destroyed two summer cabins in Red Feather Lakes Village and blasted an exploding propane tank across Larimer County Road 67J into the Property Owners Building.
In addition to the extensive damage caused by the tank smashing through the entire length of the building, winds of up to 60 miles an hour started a dozen spot fires in the area. No one was injured, and the blaze was contained quickly.
About two dozen firefighters from Red Feather Lakes, Crystal Lake, Livermore and Glacier View volunteer fire departments as well as Larimer County Emergency Services responded to the fire. Slash Solutions, which operates the beetle-kill disposal operation on County Road 73C, also sent a water truck and a backhoe to the scene, which Red Feather Lakes Fire Chief Steve Robinson said was a “tremendous help.”
“Extraordinary efforts by the volunteer fire departments resulted in the fire being brought under control quickly, averting what would have been a major incident for Red Feather Lakes,” said Larimer County Sheriff’s spokesman John Schulz.
The fire was reported at about 1 a.m. on Dec. 3. More than 365 evacuation notices were sent to residents in the area immediately around the firehouse and in Fox Acres at about 3 a.m. The evacuation was cancelled at about 4:30 a.m.
While firefighters were on scene, a large propane tank next to one of the cabins exploded and was propelled about 250 feet over two fire trucks and into the Property Owners Building. It left an 8-foot-diamenter hole in the wall and still had enough momentum to continue 50 feet to the other side of the building and spin into the kitchen, hitting the refrigerator, before it came to a halt.
A flaming chunk of the tank also started another spot fire in a neighboring yard that was quickly extinguished. A small fire in the building was also put out immediately.
The exact cause of the blaze has not been determined, but Larimer County investigators have ruled the origin was not suspicious. Some of the first firefighters on the scene reported seeing arcs from a power line hit by a tree downed in the high winds near one of the structures. The winds quickly spread the fire to the two unoccupied cabins, which burned to the ground.
Repairs to the POA building are pending a complete assessment of the damage by the insurance company, according to Jill Reed, secretary of the Property Owners Association. The power is off, the pipes have been drained and the windows and the damaged wall have been boarded up until repairs can begin.
Meetings usually held in the building have been rescheduled in various locations around Red Feather, including the library, the meeting room at Ramona Lake Cabins and the Mountain Crafts Gallery, Reed added.
“If there’s any bright spot, at least it happened after the Greening,” she said, referring to the annual holiday celebration held on Dec. 1 in the Village this year.