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Firefighters extinguish house fire in north Cortez

Cortez police officers and firefighters responded to a house fire Tuesday afternoon at North Harrison and East Empire streets in Cortez.

Cortez Fire Chief Jeff Vandevoorde said one of the house’s residents reported the fire at 12:59 p.m. Three trucks with 12 firefighters responded to the house at 410 E. Empire St., and it took them about 30 minutes to extinguish the blaze. Cortez police officers blocked part of the intersection at East Empire and North Harrison streets for about an hour while firefighters worked on the house.

Vandevoorde said the fire appeared to have started in a gas heater in the wall between one of the house’s bedrooms and a bathroom. The bedroom and attic above it sustained severe smoke and water damage, but Vandevoorde said the rest of the house, as well as most of the furniture, escaped largely unscathed. He said that thanks to the resident’s quick reporting, firefighters were able to reach the scene within a few minutes after the fire started.

“We were lucky we were able to get on it pretty quick,” he said.

He said there were also more firefighters than usual available to answer the call, because the Cortez fire station was hosting a CPR training session at the time.

No one was in the house when emergency personnel responded to the fire. Vandevoorde said the resident who reported it had gotten out before they arrived.

He said it’s not unusual for fires to start in gas furnaces and heaters, especially if they haven’t been cleaned in a long time.

“Furnaces can collect a lot of dirt, so it’s important to get them serviced and cleaned ... especially just before winter starts,” he said.

No other structures were threatened by the fire, he said.