Aspen, CO – A homeowner was injured on Sunday morning as a result of a gas explosion that caused a fire in the garage of a West End residence, Aspen Fire Chief Rick Balentine said.
The fire, at 621 W. Francis St., was extinguished within 90 minutes of authorities’ arrival just after 10:30 a.m., and did not spread to the main residence or other houses in the area, he said.
Balentine declined to name the homeowner and an Aspen Fire Department news release only lists the injured man’s age, which is 76. Pitkin County Assessor’s Office records show the house is owned by Robert C. Cook.
The homeowner, who was in the garage at the time of the explosion, was taken by ambulance to Aspen Valley Hospital and then airlifted to a Denver hospital. The extent of his injuries were not known as of press time.
He said firefighters contained the fire to the garage, which was detached from the house. The fire was completely extinguished by noon.
A Pitkin County alert issued just before 11 a.m. said the Aspen Fire Department, along with other partner agencies, were on the scene of a structure fire.
“Heavy black smoke and possible flames will be visible on the West End,” the alert said.
By 11:30 a.m., Aspen police had blocked off the streets near the fire to traffic and pedestrians. Smoke and flames were no longer visible.
The release says the fire department responded with three fire engines, one ladder truck and one rescue unit, along with 17 firefighters. The Aspen Ambulance District, Aspen Police Department and Roaring Fork Fire Rescue also responded to the scene.
“When Aspen Fire Department crews arrived on scene, they reported heavy smoke and flames coming from the structure and employed defensive fire tactics to suppress the fire as the structure’s stability had been compromised,” the release states. “Aspen Fire requested a mutual-aid engine company from Roaring Fork Fire Rescue to help protect neighboring structures from flame and heat exposure.”
According to the release, the fire was quickly contained, and “crews worked diligently to extinguish all remaining hotspots.” The release says the fire was related to a natural gas leak that occurred when heavy snow and ice fell from the roof of the garage and damaged a natural gas meter below.