Firefighters responded to a blaze at 4214 Florida Road (County Road 240) on Thursday afternoon that engulfed a three-bedroom home.
Neighbors reported the fire around 3:45 p.m., said Karola Hanks, fire marshal with Durango Fire Protection District.
The home is owned by David and Patrick Dawson but is occupied by Patrick and his fiancée, who declined to give her name. They were not at home when the fire started.
“They both left the house early in the morning for work and were notified by various phone calls that their house was on fire,” Hanks said. “It was a pretty traumatic moment for them.”
Dawson and his fiancée own three dogs, and the dogs in the house made it out unharmed.
“One dog was with the fiancée at work,” Hanks said. “A neighbor got another dog out, and the last dog bolted. We were able to finally catch him once the owners showed up because he responded to them. We can be intimidating in all of our gear.”
Hanks said the fire originated in the garage and quickly spread to the home, which is about 15 feet away.
Officials have a theory for how the fire may have started. The owners were staining wood in the garage, and a chemical reaction from the stain-soaked rags likely sparked the fire, Hanks said.
“They put those rags saturated in stain in a plastic container that they left in the garage,” Hanks said. “We’ve seen those types of fires before. We’ve had a number of fires start that way in Rafter J. The rags develop a chemical reaction that produces heat and can start a fire.”
Hanks said rags used for staining should immediately be put into a bucket of water to prevent a chemical reaction from occurring.
In all, 35 personnel and 12 tankers and engines from Durango Fire, Upper Pine River and Los Pinos fire protection districts responded.
“It was an excellent turnout from our volunteers and off-duty personnel,” Hanks said.
The house was not considered a total loss and is salvageable.
“The garage is completely destroyed, and the western most wall suffered significant damage,” she said. “But it is a home that is reparable. It was a well-built house with great fire blocking that helped keep the fire from spreading.”