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Fire engulfs vacant building in south Cortez

Fire crews from Cortez, Dolores, and Lewis-Arriola battled a structure fire in south Cortez Tuesday evening. (Courtesy Cortez Fire Protection District)
No injuries reported; cause is suspicious and under investigation, officials said

Multiple fire crews responded to a suspicious structure fire Tuesday in south Cortez.

The fire occurred in a vacant building that was boarded up on the southwest corner of East Seventh Street and South Ash Street, said Battalion Chief Rick Spencer, of the Cortez Fire Protection District.

There were no injuries or evacuations.

The building was partially engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived about 8:30 p.m.

Fire crews from Lewis Arriola and Dolores districts were called in for mutual aid. Fifteen firefighters were on scene, and operations lasted until 12:30 a.m. Wednesday.

The cause of the fire is “undetermined in cause and suspicious,” Spencer said.

The investigation was turned over to the Cortez Police Department, and the case is ongoing, said Lt. Andy Brock on Friday.

Fire engulfed a vacant building on the corner of East Seventh Street and North Ash in south Cortez Tuesday evening. (Courtesy Cortez Fire Protection District)
A fire in a vacant building in south Cortez burned through the roof and was responded to by multiple area fire agencies. (Courtesy Cortez Fire Protection District)

Neighbors reported flames coming from the structure and said the building has been unoccupied for a while. Fire crews reacted with an “aggressive attack from the exterior,” Spencer said. “It was intense fire behavior.”

The structure sustained heavy damage, he said.

A priority was to prevent the fire from spreading to nearby structures. Interior fire conditions made it too dangerous to enter the building.

Fire engines from Cortez, Dolores and Lewis-Arriola were on scene, along with a Cortez rescue truck. The Cortez Police Department and Southwest Health System ambulance also responded.