LYONS, Colo. –
A home in rural Boulder County burned to the ground Friday morning after the volunteer firefighter who lives there accidentally ignited the house with a blowtorch, officials said.
The blaze broke out about 8:30 a.m. at 3955 Conifer Hill Road near the town of Allenspark.
Boulder County Sheriff’s Cmdr. Rick Brough said the owner, Erik Akia, was using a gas blowtorch to try and thaw pipes under the house in a crawl space when he accidentally caught the building on fire.
Officials initially thought a controlled burn got out of control.
Akia’s wife and four children were inside the house at the time, but escaped unharmed. Akia and his wife were taken to a hospital in Estes Park because of possible smoke inhalation, Brough said.
The fire spread quickly through the house, which was constructed of hay bales and mud, Brough said.
A work shed next to the house also caught fire and burned to the ground, he said.
Akia won’t face any charges, according to the sheriff’s office.
“It’s non-criminal, because he set his own property on fire,” Brough said.
Jeff Kolen, a firefighter with the Allenspark Fire Department, confirmed Akia is a volunteer with the department. He declined to say how long Akia has been a firefighter.
Kay Lane, who owns property near the site of the fire, said news of the blaze hit close to home.
“Everybody in an area like that gets so close,” she said.
She said Akia and his family live in the rural area throughout the year, and that getting through the mountain roads can be difficult.
“Usually, we can’t get into our cabin this time of year,” she said.
Sheriff’s officials said snow from Thursday’s blizzard hampered efforts to reach the fire.
Snow plows had to be sent in front of firefighters from Allenspark, Lyons, Indian Peaks and Left Hand Canyon to clear a path to the blaze, officials said.
It took firefighters 25 minutes to reach the house, Brough said.