Investigators cannot pinpoint what caused a fire that destroyed a Southern Colorado home, but do believe it was accidental.
And firefighters discuss the dangers of having too many items in your home.
The house on the 3200 block of Nuckolls in Pueblo forced the evacuation of an elderly couple late Wednesday night. The blaze broke out around 11 p.m. in the basement of the home and worked its way up to the first floor.
The couple made it out of the home safely, but three cats and two dogs were lost in the fire. Fire officials haven’t said whether or not the house is a total loss, but say between content and property, there is about $67,000 in damage, which is about half the value of the property.
Family members say 84-year-old Boyd Rafferty and 77-year-old Leonore Rafferty are devastated, after building that home by hand over 50 years ago.
The granddaughter of the couple, Kelin Rafferty-Croft, says they are shaken up and in disbelief. The house contained tons of family memories.
Rafferty-Croft says the couple believes it was an electrical fire. The pair smelled something strange and say their electricity turned off before they were aware of the flames.
Fire officials say a large number of household items made it difficult for crews to attack the source of the flames. It took them more than an hour to knock the flames down.
Pueblo Fire Public Information Officer Woody Percival says when a house is full with an excessive amount of items, it creates a number of hazards. He says conditions like these are some of the most dangerous for both families and firefighters. Household items such as newspapers, pictures, documents, furniture, etc. become fuel for the fire.
"When we have that much of a fire load in each room, the fire spreads quicker, has a lot more ability to gain ground on us so it takes the entire firefighting operation a lot longer to extinguish it and then we have lots of hot spots," said Percival. He adds, "Everything has to be worked through to make sure we don't have things that are hidden that are still burning as well."
To put it into perspective, crews spent three hours Wednesday night fighting hot spots.
A build-up of items also makes it hazardous for firefighters who have to manuever through the house. Not only is it harder to find victims, but it’s difficult to extinguish the fire, as they cannot easily access the source.
"It almost makes the building like we are dealing with a bunch of small rooms or small passage ways instead of bigger open spaces where we can enter quickly and do a quick search, and extinguish the fire if we have the fire in that room," said Percival.
Pueblo fire investigators are still looking into the cause of the fire, but for now are ruling it undetermined.
Stay with KKTV.com as we continue to look into the cause.
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