4-H animals die in large shed fire at historic Legacy Ranch in Steamboat
Five pigs and two sheep perished in a structure fire Saturday evening at Legacy Ranch on U.S. Highway 40.
Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue firefighters were dispatched to the ranch at 4:40 p.m., arriving at 4:45 p.m. to find the building, known as the machine shed, completely engulfed in flames.
The 130-acre Legacy Ranch was homesteaded in 1899 and is owned by the city of Steamboat Springs and leased to the Yampatika nonprofit organization. The historic property is under a conservation easement.
According to a news release, Fire Captain Scott Hetrick made the immediate decision to attack the fire and protect adjacent buildings and land. The fire was extinguished by 6:45 p.m.
One fire engine, one tower truck, two ambulances and two water tenders responded to the fire, which was contained to the machine shed and a small area of grass near the shed, which was a complete loss
The cause of the fire is unknown at this time and under investigation. The fire marshal will return to the scene Monday to continue the investigation.
“At this point in time, we think it is just a tragic accident,” said Yampatika Executive Director Joe Haines.
Each spring, Yampatika partners with 4-H to provide a space for families to keep pigs, sheep and goats as they raise them in preparation for the Routt County Fair.
Three different families, who don’t have space of their own to keep the animals, were caring for the seven animals lost to the fire.
Some of the 4-H animal caregivers had been there just about an hour before the fire broke out, Haines said. And some had been planning to return again in the evening.
Haines said he is grateful the fire did not injure any people or spread to the other buildings or the neighboring STARS Ranch, especially on what was a very windy day.
“The fire department did a great job getting the fire out,” he said.
But the loss of animals is very upsetting, Haines said, especially for the families who were raising them.
“It’s a real tragedy,” he said. “It’s a shock any time something tragic like this happens. It’s something they have to process.”
The machine shed is also used to store lawnmowers and other gardening equipment. Haines said there are some ideas as to the cause, but they will await the fire marshal’s determination.
Yampatika, a nonprofit with the mission to inspire environmental stewardship through education, offers year-round programs at Legacy Ranch for youth and adults.
They’ve leased the property since 2009. The city acquired the five ranch buildings and large hay meadow in 1999.
Because the property is under a conservation easement, Haines said Yampatika will be communicating with the land trust and city about whether to replace the shed which, while not one of the main historical treasures that include the ranch house and the bunk house, was a piece of the ranch’s long history.
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The Yampa Valley has been seeing some much needed rain to start the month of May, which is historically the wettest month of the year for the area.