'Numerous' explosions go off during Fountain house fire

Published: Nov. 12, 2019 at 8:17 AM MST
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A homeowner says his neighbor saved his life.

Joe Roberts woke up to his neighbor pounding on his door, shouting that his van was on fire.

"Started beating on the door, woke us up while on the phone with 911," Roberts told 11 News.

A van had caught fire in Roberts' detached garage, which was just a few feet away from his east Fountain house. The fire was moving fast.

"It started off at the van, then to the garage, then from the garage it jumped, from a detached garage it jumped from the garage to the house and just kept on spreading and spreading."

By the time firefighters reached Flying F Road at 5:39 a.m., the garage was engulfed in flames and the fire moving through the home.

"My house is down over there and I could see it above this roof, this barn, so I would imagine [the flames] were probably 30, 40 feet in the air," neighbor Craig Kimball told 11 News.

Firefighters initially believed ammunition stored inside the home triggered multiple explosions, but Roberts said it was likely items in the garage that set off an explosion and pushed the flames to his house.

"I had propane tanks int he garage, I had the backup propane tank from my BBQ grill, and I had two from an RV that I had ... I had my gas can for my lawnmower, I had a gas can for my chainsaws, propane bottles for camping."

A canister was launched across the street from the force of the explosions.

Roberts, his daughter and their pets all escaped safely.

"Sammy is safe, the animals are fine -- everything else is just stuff," he told 11 News.

Quick work by firefighters kept the fire from spreading beyond the property. Firefighters are now trying to figure out the cause.

Roberts wonders if his daughter's wrecked van had anything to do with it.

"[She] had a minor little fender bender last night, it was towed home, wasn't leaking, wasn't dripping, nothing ... it had a wheelchair lift assist, whatever you would call that, and the seats were made to spin around. My son thinks that because of all that wiring, something got jarred loose in the accident."

The van and garage are a total loss. The home was heavily damaged. The Red Cross is assisting the family.