The Dolores and Rico Fire Protection districts were called out at 4 a.m., but the warehouse was fully engulfed when they arrived, said Dolores Fire Chief Mike Zion.
Nobody was injured in the fire, which was reported by Dunton residents. The blaze destroyed the building and the golf carts, resort supplies and gas dryers inside. The cause is unknown, Zion said, but foul play is not suspected.
Quick thinking by residents and the first Dolores firefighter on scene likely saved a nearby resort residence, Zion said.
“They were dousing the building with buckets of water, and it was enough to prevent the fire from spreading,” he said.
Twenty firefighters, several tankers and fire engines fought the blaze, which was knocked down in about 30 minutes. The barn and equipment inside was a total loss. The property is insured.
It took another five hours to mop up the scene. Dolores County brought in a loader to tear down the remaining structure so the fire could be completely snuffed out.
Zion said the fire reinforces the need for a fire station on the West Fork of the Dolores River. Residents formed a volunteer fire department this year, but are still working on getting a station and year-round volunteers. Many of the volunteers had already left for the winter. A new West Fork fire station is being considered at Fish Creek, nearest the most residences.
Local fire districts are donating equipment to the new fire department, including tanker and pumper trucks from the Dolores Fire Protection District and equipment from the Dove Creek Volunteer Fire Department.
The West Fork is geographically isolated from Dolores County’s main fire departments. Although the first four miles of the canyon are in the town of Dolores’ fire district, the rest is in Dolores County, including 85 homes and the Dunton Resort. The Dolores fire station is 35 miles from Dunton, and the Rico fire station is 40 miles away.
The Dolores Fire Protection District has covered outside its town area for decades, but it recently announced it can’t afford it any longer. If Dolores crews respond to West Fork residents outside their district, they plan to charge the homeowners to help cover costs.
For more information on the new West Fork Volunteer Fire department, visit their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/westforkvfd/