Arson ruled out in Isolation Peak Fire
May 15, 2012
The Grand County Sheriff’s Office has determined the Isolation Peak motel fire last year, June 13, 2011, was not a result of arson.
“The case has closed as there is no evidence to believe a crime has occurred,” states a May 9 press release from the Sheriff’s Office regarding a late-afternoon structure fire at the motel owned by John R. Waller and son John E. Waller.
Grand Lake Fire declared the fire out that night, but two hours later was called back to the scene to a second fire at the same location.
The Sherrif’s Office conclusion is based on Colorado Bureau of Investigation lab results dated May 6 that “did not identify the presence of an ignitable liquid,” despite K9 alerts during CBI’s investigation at the scene. “This does not preclude the possibility that an ignitable liquid was present at an earlier time,” the lab report reads.
Investigator Leo Piechocki closed the case based on physical evidence, lab results, witness interviews and both the insurance company’s and CBI’s investigations and lab reports, as stated in his incident report.
The investigation determined the first fire likely was caused from combustible materials located too close to the burner of the water heater, and the second fire was result of “a rekindle of the first fire,” likely in the cellulose insulation of the attic, according to Piechocki
Occupants of the motel evacuated at the time of the fire; there were no injuries or deaths related to the fire.
The senior John Waller is the owner of another Highway 34 Grand Lake-area structure that burned down a year prior, in June 2010. According to Peichocki’s report, Insurer Thad Scholl told the investigator, “It was very unusual for a client to have two fire claims in a year.”
Waller threatened lawsuits against Grand Lake Fire for its failure to protect the warehouse structure, and sent two letters to the fire district board of directors seeking settlement. Grand Lake Fire denied liability both times.