TOWN OF RIDGWAY: Fire at God's Rods controlled by quick response
Tuesday, 30 July 2013 02:14
The partially-melted welder which ignited the fire sits next to a power washer used in the volunteer cleanup effort. Plaindealer photo by Bill Tiedje
By Bill Tiedje
Thanks to a quick response from the Ridgway Volunteer Fire Department, a small blaze started by a faulty welder at God's Rods auto shop was quickly extinguished late Friday evening, July 26.
Damage was limited to soot and smoke buildup in the garage, and the shop planned to reopen on July 29 following a community-led cleanup effort.
At 11:10 p.m., RVFD received a report of a small explosion and fire on Campbell Lane from an off-duty police officer.
Within five minutes, RVFD Assistant Fire Chief Michael McAllister and Adam Johnson responded to the scene in the first engine. Chief Dan Bartashius met McAllister and Johnson at the scene.
McAllister explained RVFD's first objective was to establish a secure water supply and determine no one else was in the vicinity. Once that was accomplished, the three initial responders methodically worked to assess the situation inside the shop.
Upon entering, they found the source of the fire was a faulty welder, and the flames were extinguished with water from the fire engine.
McAllister and Johnson recalled hearing a hiss after the fire was put out and determined that gas was leaking from the oxy-acetylene tank on the welder. The leak was immediately secured, although McAllister explained he was unsure whether gas played any role in ignition of the fire.
As the operation progressed, nine other RVFD crew members responded to the call for assistance. Ouray County Emergency Medical Services staff were also on scene.
McAllister said the fire crew cautiously entered the building, instead of rushing in and opening the large garage doors which would have created a large oxygen supply, because unknown chemicals and flammable materials could have been present in the shop.
"We want to know our firefighters are safe," remarked McAllister.
After the fire was extinguished, the burned remnants of the welder and other soot-covered equipment were removed from the shop.
God's Rods owner Mirek Maez said apart from the welder and nearby garage doors, damage was limited to soot and smoke damage from burning tires.
"We got extremely lucky that somebody saw it," Maez remarked. "I'm so thankful (RVFD) was on the ball."
Describing the rapid alert and response as a miracle, co-owner Jenn Maez said, "We still have a building; we can clean."
Commuinty members helped to remove the soot from the walls and equipment using power washers on July 27 and 28.