Two families lost their homes early Wednesday when a store caught fire and flames spread to their lofts above the shop.
The San Juan County Volunteer Fire Department received the report at 3:30 a.m. Wednesday and was on scene spraying the structure with water by 3:35 a.m., said DeAnne Gallegos, spokeswoman for San Juan County Emergency Management. Firefighters battled the blaze for nearly three hours and declared the fire suppressed at 6 a.m.
No injuries were reported and the two families were safely evacuated, but the structure took “extensive damage” and is “uninhabitable,” the release says.
The two affected families, who were not comfortable with releasing their names on Wednesday, lived above the Silverton Square cafe which they co-own. They have lived in Silverton over a year and opened shop in February, Gallegos said.
She said the families’ cellphones were lost to the fire because they had to leave in such a hurry, and although the flames may not have reached some parts of the residences, personal property was destroyed as a result of smoke and water damage.
“It’s very heartbreaking,” she said.
Jim Harper, owner of the Grand Imperial Hotel, immediately provided a family suite at the hotel for the displaced families the morning of the blaze. Fundraising efforts are already underway, Gallegos said.
Money is being raised through Citizens State Bank under the Silverton Square Fire and Family Relief Fund and a GoFundMe and other local fundraisers are being coordinated, she said.
“Once again, I would like to thank the team for what we do as a team,” Fire Chief Gilbert Archuleta said in the release. The structure was fully engulfed in flames when we arrived, and we stepped up immediately.”
Seventeen firefighters and two engines were deployed, according to a news release from the emergency management office. Silverton Medical Rescue and the San Juan County Sheriff’s Office also responded to support firefighters.
The cause of the fire is under investigation, but San Juan County Emergency Management said in the release that Silverton residents should take care to clean their chimneys before winter arrives, avoid storing flammables inside homes or businesses, and clear doorways of debris and clutter.
“During this time of year when we reset our clocks, it is important to also change out batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors,” the release says. “Remember, ‘fire won’t wait – plan your escape.’ Make sure you have a plan and a ‘go bag’ ready if you need to evacuate a dwelling immediately.”