Cause of structure fire in Winter Park Highlands still unknown |

Cause of structure fire in Winter Park Highlands still unknown

Investigation reveals homeowner's dog likely died in blaze

The structure fire encompassed the house, detached garage and a car parked outside.
McKenna Harford /

A house fire in the Winter Park Highlands that required emergency crews to return at least twice after the initial blaze was put out burned so hot that an investigation was not able to determine a cause.

East Grand Fire Chief Todd Holzwarth said the flames damaged the structure so severely that investigators were only able to determine that the fire had started inside the house. There is currently no reason to believe any crime was involved.

“We got some reports that it probably started in a part of the house, but the damage is so extensive that it’s very difficult to establish a reason,” Holzwarth said. “It will be undetermined until we get something back from someone who’s really able to get in there and tear it apart completely, and I don’t know if the insurance investigators are able to do that.”

Crews from East Grand Fire and Grand Fire protection districts responded to reports of a fire at a single-family dwelling on County Road 851 around 4:15 p.m. on June 11. 

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The house was thought to be vacant at the time of the fire, but following the investigation Holzwarth said it is likely the homeowner’s dog was inside the house at the time and perished in the flames.

Along with the house, the detached garage and a car parked outside caught fire, resulting in significant amounts of black and grey smoke, constant car alarms and an occasional airbag explosion. The house and garage were total losses.

Fire crews returned to the site at least twice more later that evening and the following day to put out a spot fire next to the shed and a grass fire on the property. 

The investigation is now in the hands of the homeowner’s insurance company, according to Holzwarth.

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