A newly installed refrigerator appears to have started a house fire in Weber Canyon last week, destroying an old farmhouse.
Luckily, no one was harmed by the incident, although Dave Sessions and his wife Lee-Ann Hill have been forced out of their home while an investigation is taking place.
“The house is still standing, but the inside is just gutted,” Sessions said. “The fire department was phenomenal. And my wife and the dog – I was still at work – but they got out OK.”
Sessions owns the Mac Ranch, a computer shop in Durango. He and Hill had bought the lot along County Road 41 in 2013, where they run Laughing Wolf Farm, specializing in heritage grains.
The couple had ordered a Whirlpool refrigerator from Home Depot, which was delivered from Albuquerque and installed around 11 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 10.
Later that night at around 9 p.m., Hill was cooking fried green tomatoes in the kitchen when the refrigerator started to buzz, Sessions said.
She went over to check on the fridge and unplugged it, but the buzzing noise continued, Sessions said. She plugged it back in, before returning to the stove.
All of a sudden, the refrigerator burst into flames. Hill grabbed the fire extinguisher and tried to put out the fire, but she was unable to do so. After picking up her dog Ozzy, she ran outside and called 9-1-1.
“An hour later, she would have been in bed, she would not be alive right now,” Sessions said. “It’s just so scary to have that happen.”
First responders from the Mancos Fire Protection District appeared shortly thereafter, and extinguished the flames, Sessions said.
The fire itself destroyed the kitchen, entry, and bathroom, and the rest of the house saw a lot of melting and smoke damage. The firefighters tore out the roof and walls to make sure there were no hot spots, Sessions said.
According to an incident report by the Montezuma County Sheriff’s Office, which also responded to the fire, Mancos Fire Chief Tony Aspromonte said the fire was most likely electric, since there was a “popped breaker in the breaker box.”
The couple are currently renting a place in Durango while Whirlpool is investigating the incident. They can’t move forward with an insurance claim until the investigation is complete, Sessions said.
“We’re still going back to harvest and do all that,” he said. “But we can’t stay there.”
They plan to stay at the site, although the house is a “goner,” he said. “We’ll rebuild the house if we can,” Sessions said.
A GoFundMe fundraiser has been set up for the two online.