Fire damages business

Sweetwater Trading Company in flames Saturday

— A weekend fire caused $10,000 to $15,000 damage to a downtown Craig business.

According to Bill Johnston, Craig Fire/Rescue assistant fire chief, what appeared to be an electrical malfunction in or near the cash register ignited the fire in Sweetwater Trading Company at 541 Yampa Ave.

Firefighters responded to the scene of a small fire that could have been a big problem at 9 a.m. Saturday morning. According to Johnston, there were indications the fire may have caused backdraft conditions.

"We had to set up safety measures because of a possible backdraft situation," he said.

A backdraft occurs when oxygen combines with a fire contained in a room. Opening a door or window can cause excess oxygen to react with the fire, causing an explosion.

Smokey windows and doors are indications of backdraft conditions.

Another problem is that downtown businesses are connected, so fire containment is a high priority to prevent other buildings from igniting.

As it turned out, a backdraft did not happen and the fire was contained within five minutes of entering the building. Johnston said the fire was small, but created excessive smoke that caused the most damage to the business.

"We play all fires like they're big and serious, so we were lucky when we opened the door, it didn't explode," he said.

Johnston commended Craig Police Department officer Brian Soper for sizing up the situation and getting important information to the dispatcher. Soper was the first on the scene and he reported the possible backdraft conditions to the dispatcher so firefighters were alerted before reaching the scene.

"I wish we could get more law enforcement officers to do that because we fear for their lives when they respond to a fire," Johnston said.

Soper recognized the conditions and did not attempt to open the door of the business until firefighters arrived on scene.

The owner of the Sweetwater Trading Company was unavailable for comment.

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