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Firefighters respond to fire at Days Inn in Cortez

Fire extinguished; three fire agencies respond

A fire broke out in a room of the Days Inn at the corner of U.S. Highway 160 and Colorado 145 in Cortez about 1:30 p.m. Monday.

No injuries were reported, and the fire in a room on the ground floor was quickly put out. It was accidentally started by construction workers working on plumbing in the room, according to Shawn Bittle, assistant chief for the Cortez Fire Protection District.

Cortez Police officers knocked on doors to evacuate people at the hotel. Smoke could be seen coming out of the room as firefighters dressed in full bunker gear entered with hoses.

The hotel is not required to have a sprinkler system, Bittle said, because it was built before that requirement went into the city code. It does have accessible fire extinguishers mounted in various places. The section of the hotel where the fire occurred was temporarily closed, pending an inspection by an electrician, Bittle said.

The room where the fire started sustained burn and smoke damage. The room next door and one above on the second floor also had smoke damage.

Firefighters removed outside paneling to make sure that the fire had not spread into hidden spaces of the building. They also inspected the hotel attic and confirmed the fire had not spread.

The fire was ruled an accident, and no citations were issued.

Fire agencies from Cortez, Mancos, and Dolores responded to the fire. An ambulance crew from Southwest Health System was also on scene. On hotel fires, mutual aid is called for immediately because of the potential for a large disaster, Bittle said.

“Extra attention all around is needed on older buildings,” Bittle said. The worry is that a construction project could spark a fire that goes unnoticed then flares up later, he said.

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