Officials may be closer to finding the source of a blaze that lit up the Newman Building on Eighth Street and Main Avenue early Sunday morning.
Fire investigators are looking at a gas furnace mounted in the ceiling above Joel's bar as a likely cause of the fire that damaged the interior of the building. No one was in the building at the time of the fire, and no one was injured fighting the blaze.
The fire could have been caused by poor maintenance of the furnace, located in a "concealed, combustible space" above Joel's, according a release. Durango Fire & Rescue Authority Fire Marshal Tom Kaufman said a furnace filter usually needs to be serviced once every three to five months.
At 7:28 a.m. Sunday, firefighters from DFRA, Upper Pine and Los Pinos fire protection districts responded to the fire, which sent thick, dark smoke out third-floor windows and skylights. Crews worked for about 30 minutes battling the fire.
The Newman Building is near the 700 block of Main Avenue, the site of a 2008 fire that seriously damaged several stores and injured nine firefighters in an explosion.
The building was built in 1892 and is listed on the National Historic Register. Located in the building are the Silk Sparrow clothing shop, Colorado Pongas pool hall and various offices.
Responders cordoned off a large perimeter Sunday, and police and sheriff's deputies kept onlookers at a safe distance, wary of a repeat of last year's explosion. Inside the building, smoke and water damage was extensive. There are no estimates of the extent of the damage.
To understand the specific cause of the furnace failure, laboratory analysis will be needed. After representatives from various insurance companies also inspect the fire site next week, DFRA will determine whether or not to send the furnace to a laboratory for further investigation.