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Fire destroys La Plata County Sheriff’s Office deputy’s house

Two dogs successfully escaped blaze north of Ignacio
Los Pinos Fire Protection District crews during a weekly training in September 2019 outside the Ignacio fire station. (Durango Herald file)

A La Plata County Sheriff’s Office deputy’s home was destroyed by fire early Tuesday north of Ignacio.

The fire was reported shortly after 4 a.m. on County Road 509 by the woman who lived at the home, said Josh Lorenzen, deputy chief of operations with the Los Pinos Fire Protection District.

To help

La Plata County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Tiana Mihalich lost her home Tuesday in an early morning fire north of Ignacio. She rescued her animals, but fire crews were unable to save her home and personal belongings.

A friend and coworker is asking the community for donations to help deputy Mihalich recover. The fundraiser seeks to raise about $5,000, and, as of Wednesday, was about halfway there.

To donate, visit https://www.gofundme.com/f/house-fire-la-plata-county-deputy.

The cause of the fire remained under investigation as of midday Tuesday.

“We don’t suspect any foul play, we don’t suspect anything suspicious with the fire,” Lorenzen said.

La Plata County Sheriff Sean Smith said the deputy had been working all night when she learned of the fire.

“She was actually working at the time this happened, on patrol, and her home security system alerted her to something and she went to her house and found her house engulfed in flames when she got there,” Smith said.

Lorenzen said firefighters arrived to a fully involved structure fire, with 80% to 90% of the mobile home engulfed in flames. Firefighters went into a defensive mode, meaning they attacked the blaze from the outside with the goal of preventing it from spreading.

He said the home is a total loss.

Smith said the deputy lost “basically all” of her personal belongings that had been inside the house, but she had rental insurance.

Her parents arrived in town Tuesday to assist.

Smith said he reached out to the Hundred Club of Durango, which provides financial assistance to firefighters, law enforcement officers and their family members during tragedy or times of significant need. The club said it planned to provide financial assistance, Smith said.

Lorenzen said firefighters encountered some “difficult terrain” upon arriving at the house, “but nothing out of the ordinary for us.”

“Just the access to the residence, it was a longer drive to the residence and pretty much one way in, one way out, which makes it just difficult for apparatus coming in and out,” he said.

No firefighters or other individuals were injured in the fire.

Two dogs at the house were able to make it out safely, he said.


An earlier version of this story gave an incorrect fire agency that Josh Lorenzen works with. Lorenzen is deputy chief of operations of the Los Pinos Fire Protection District.

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