Blaze displaces three Frisco families |

Blaze displaces three Frisco families

Lu Snyder

FRISCO – Forty-two firefighters spent the early-morning hours Monday fighting a two-alarm fire that damaged a triplex and two vehicles on Alpine Drive in Frisco.

Lake Dillon Fire-Rescue assistant fire chief Jeff Berino was first on the scene, four minutes after receiving the call at 1:55 a.m. He said preliminary findings indicate the fire started in a Subaru Forester parked in front of the unit.

“The vehicle was parked under a combustible porch/overhang,” Berino said. “Everything was wood. The vehicle caught on fire, and there was plenty of fuel and just enough wind to fan it. When I got there, the thing was really taking off.”

Berino then sent out a second alarm, requesting help from the surrounding fire districts. Each department – Snake River, Copper Mountain, and Red, White and Blue – sent firefighters.

It took 42 firefighters about two hours to contain the fast-moving fire, and another two to extinguish it, Berino said.

“The fire spread really quickly,” Berino said. “We were also worried that it was going to spread to some of the nearby trees. It spread to the grass in some places.”

Had the wind been stronger, Berino said it’s likely the fire would have involved trees and additional homes. Embers from the fire were found as far as four houses away, he added.

Although four of the occupants went to Summit Medical Center for treatment of smoke inhalation, none of the occupants were injured.

Don and Jane Peterson, owners of Summit Gold in Frisco, have owned their home – the central unit of the triplex – for 12 years.

Don Peterson said his wife woke him at the same time he heard the fire alarm. He said he thought maybe the stove had caught fire, so he ran upstairs to the kitchen.

“I looked around the corner and the whole front of the place was on fire,” Peterson said. “I hollered at Jane to call 9-1-1, but the phone was out already.”

Peterson’s front door exits next to the garage, which was on fire.

“We opened the garage door, not knowing it was on fire,” Peterson said, explaining that smoke poured into their home as they did. “We both dropped to the floor and crawled to the back window.”

Peterson said he fumbled in the closet for some sweats but “it was getting so bad that I went out the window buck naked.” He laughed, joking he probably scared away his rescuers.

Despite being awakened by a fire that made their homes uninhabitable – and which fire officials estimate caused $750,000 in damage – Peterson and his neighbors, Scott and Jan Thomas, kept things in perspective.

Although the fire gutted the main living area of the Peterson’s home, their garage and one of their cars, it did not reach the bedrooms, and Don Peterson said he was able to retrieve his hearing aid, his wallet and his computer. None were damaged.

“These are just things,” Peterson said of the items lost in the fire. A heart patient who has had open-heart surgery and five bypasses, Peterson said little fazes him anymore.

“We just feel very fortunate,” he said. Firefighters found their cat safe in their closet.

None of the occupants’ pets perished in the fire.

“Women, children, and hamsters first – and then the husband,” Scott Thomas said, and laughed.

Scott Thomas said he was falling asleep to the sound of the television when the fire started next door. He said he heard popping noises and thought it was people coming home from the bars, playing with fireworks. It wasn’t until he saw flickering light out the front window that he got up to look.

His son, Collin, 10 was asleep on the porch. Thomas said he grabbed his son, and then woke up his wife, Jan, and their daughter, Lauren, 8.

“Someone was at the back window (saying) “Come on! This way!'” Jan Thomas said.

Like the Petersons, the Thomas family – and their hamster, Casey – escaped out the back window. They said they didn’t know who helped them out, but they are grateful for their rescuers.

Scott Thomas said the family has been overwhelmed by the support they’ve received.

“I think we had 20 offers for a place to stay,” he said late Monday morning.

All three homes in the triplex were damaged by the fire – the Peterson’s and the Thomas’ most extensively – and are uninhabitable.

“One may be able to be reoccupied with some minor repairs,” Berino said.

He added that smoke detectors alerted each of the families – to which he credits their safe escape.

“The smoke detectors saved lives,” Berino said. He added he was pleased with the cooperative efforts of the county’s four fire departments, which allowed them to squelch the fire before it spread to neighboring houses.

Lu Snyder can be reached at 970-668-3998 x203 or

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