Alert helps thwart fire at Bayfield home

Newspaper delivery woman’s prompt response minimizes threat

The early-morning efforts of a woman delivering The Durango Herald may have saved a Bayfield home and perhaps three people sleeping inside.

At 3:25 a.m. Sunday, Gracie Clark noticed a fence on fire next to a home in the 900 block of North Oak Drive in Bayfield.

“I noticed a flickering up ahead,” Clark said. “It was a fence, a tire and other debris on fire about 2 or 3 feet away from the wall of someone’s home.”

After calling police, Clark tried to wake and alert anyone who might be in the house.

“I knocked and knocked, but no one woke up,” she said.

La Plata County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Jason Sutter arrived and battled the blaze with a fire extinguisher until the Upper Pine River Fire Protection District arrived to put out the fire.

Flames were 12 feet high, burning lumber, tires and a fence close to the home, Sutter said.

“It would have, without a doubt, spread onto the home if it was not reported,” Sutter said.

Three adults inside the home missed most of the action, sleeping through the ordeal until finally awakened by fire district officials. The names of the three occupants were not released.

The fire is thought to have started from discarded charcoal and coals from the home.

“We suspect the occupants of the home cleaned out a wood stove Saturday evening,” said Rich Graeber, chief of Upper Pine fire. “We believe there were hot embers left in the pile that was disposed outside of the home that caused the nearby fence and tire to catch fire.

“It’s a very good thing that this fire was called in. There’s no telling if the occupants would have woken in time,” Graeber said.

Clark said she was glad to help and spare the residents from a more-threatening fire.

“When I was 18 months old, my house burned down, and I had night terrors for months,” she said.

pblank@durangoherald.com

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