Fire in Grand County Sheriff’s Office prompts jail evacuation
Grand County’s 911 Dispatch Center, along with the Grand County Jail staff and inmates, were forced to evacuate their facilities late Monday night after a fire broke out in a bathroom near the administrative offices for the county law enforcement agency.
Sometime around 10:40 p.m. Monday dispatchers from Grand County’s 911 Emergency Call Center, which is located in the sheriff’s office building, were at work when their computers suddenly shut down, according to officials from the sheriff’s office. At the same time, one dispatcher noticed a smell of smoke in the building. Dispatch notified the Grand County Jail, who sent someone to check out the building and quickly discovered the front office of the building was filled with smoke.
“Our first concern was the inmates,” Lt. Dan Mayer, spokesman for the sheriff’s office, said Tuesday morning. “But we were also thinking about ammunition and firearms. We have an armory in there and evidence.”
After discovering smoke in the building, the inmates held in the jail, totaling over 30, were evacuated, first to the jail’s recreation yard and later to the Grand County Courthouse where additional jail cells exist that were used to hold higher risk inmates while lower risk inmates waited in communal areas. According to Mayer, the inmates were evacuated at 11 p.m.
As deputies began arriving on the scene they witnessed significant smoke pouring fromthe roof of the building.
“At that point we thought the whole place was going to burn down,” Mayer said.
At around the same time, administrators from the sheriff’s office ordered Grand County Dispatch to evacuate the building. The county has contingency plans in place in the event dispatchers must evacuate the building and as such, 911 emergency call responsibility was shifted to the East Grand Fire Protection District, which has a backup call center.
The Hot Sulphur Springs-Parshall Fire Protection District quickly arrived on the scene and began working to put out the fire as multiple deputies from the sheriff’s office, along with officers from both Granby and Kremmling and Colorado State Troopers, provided assistance. Grand County EMS was also on the call. The fire was fully out shortly after midnight. All inmates were moved back to the jail by 2 a.m.
Officials are still looking to pinpoint the source of the blaze but, according to Mayer, initial investigations pointed to a vent fan in a women’s restroom on the main floor of the building as the cause of the fire. Mayer said the bathroom where the fire is believed to have started shares a wall with the department’s server room and that significant damage was done to the department’s electrical wiring system for computers.
Beyond that, most of the physical damage from the fire was contained to the administrative offices area of the sheriff’s office. Mayer noted the department’s evidence room and armory were not damaged from the incident. No injuries were reported from the fire, though Mayer said a few inmates and first responders were checked out for smoke inhalation.
Mayer said the department has not received a formal tally on the total cost of damage done by the fire but estimated structural damage to the building at somewhere between $10,000 and $20,000. Mayer said that figure did not include an estimate of the cost of repairing the department’s computer wiring system.
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