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Early-morning fire puts neighborhood on edge

Early-morning fire puts neighborhood on edge

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - An early-morning fire in a vacant home put neighbors in nearby homes on edge. It happened around 4:45 a.m. Wednesday at 1503 Cheyenne Blvd.

Crews got reports of smoke in the area and went to investigate.  Upon discovering the house was vacant, Lt. Jeff Sievers, Colorado Springs Fire Department, said crews took a "defensive" approach to keep the fire from spreading while not unnecessarily endangering fire fighter's lives.

The homeowner, Jannie Richardson, said the fire department told her an old furnace in the home started the fire. CSFD said it can't confirm it until the investigation is complete.

Sievers said the fire department was concerned about the low-laying trees and the tightly-packed row of houses on that block of Cheyenne Boulevard because of the possibility of the fire spreading.

"Flames were coming out the back probably 10 or 20 feet high, then it really started," said John Johanson. He lives across the street from the remodeled home.

Johanson and other neighbors gathered on the street to watch crews as they controlled the fire.

"I pulled the drape aside and I saw flames shooting out of the roof of the house across the street," said Jane Lawless. "I went to the living room and the living room drapes were red, so there was the immediate adrenaline surge because after the Waldo Canyon fire, all of us here in the canyon are extremely nervous about fire."

"I think that's why so many fire trucks showed up because they are really concerned about how dry it is in the canyon and could spread," said Johanson.

Sievers said a lot of building materials were inside the home for the remodel that made the fire hotter and the flames higher than a typical furnished home.

Lawless and her neighbor agreed the neighborhood isn't well-prepared for a fire because of all the trees.

"If a fire swept down this canyon, cutting a few trees down isn't going to help, it really isn't," said Lawless.

The Fire Department said it could take 24 to 48 hours before investigators complete the investigation.

Sievers said crews were not able to get into the building to look for any indication of suspicious activity or foul play because of the heavy flames and smoke.

Lawless said she knows the trees, the tightly packed houses and dry conditions could have been a recipe for disaster. She said she's grateful it wasn't a windy morning.

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