Sunday fire leaves family homeless

A pipe on a wood-burning stove is believed to have caused a fire Sunday that destroyed a ranch house northwest of the city, leaving a young couple and their infant daughter homeless.

"Everything was destroyed," said Aleka Butler, whose husband, Dick, owns the destroyed property at 2115 Moffat County Road 3, which is part of the old Butler ranch.

The two-bed, one-story home was unoccupied during the blaze, which was called in to Craig Fire and Rescue at about 2 p.m. Sunday.

Firefighters saw heavy smoke billowing from the structure as they pulled up to the house, while

flames were visible at the front

door.

"It had already destroyed the tresses above the stove ... the roof area was gone," said Roy Mason, chief of the Craig Rural Fire Protection District.

Mason said crews had control of the blaze within 20 minutes and firefighters spent another three hours mopping up, tearing into the roof and putting down flare-ups.

The chief said investigators found a pipe to the ceiling from a wood-burning stove that had burned through. Flames spread into the attic from there, Mason said.

Mason, acknowledging Moffat County Sheriff's deputies who assisted at the scene, said residents should check on the condition of their pipes and smoke detectors.

"It's really nobody's fault," Mason said. "It's just one of those things that happen."

Ever and Blanca Rivera, along with their daughter, 2-year-old Jasmine, had gone into Craig to shop before the fire occurred. The couple, who are related to a worker employed by the Butler Ranch, lived in the house alone.

Blanca's sister reported the fire from a neighboring house, said Butler. The Rivera family is now staying with friends in Craig.

"Everything they ever owned is gone," she said. "I went down afterward and found a charred baby shoe."

Paul Shockley can be reached at 824-7031 or at pshockley@craigdailypress.com.

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