Nearly a month after the partial destruction of his mobile home near Guffey, Lawrence Epps is adjusting, but it hasn't been easy. As reported in the Nov. 27 Flume, his home caught fire on Nov. 24 and firefighters responded in time to save part of it. The aftermath of such a fire is often not reported, but an interview with Epps has provided some insights into how disrupted lives can be after a fire.
Epps does have insurance on the double-wide mobile home that was burned, but he has been having problems getting the double-wide repaired or replaced. He said the insurance company will only pay to repair the damage. But there's a catch there. Since the double- wide is so old, the county will only issue a permit for it to be rebuilt - not repaired, according to Epps. But Epps said that he would have to get a loan to rebuild. He plans to rebuild on the same site, just 12 feet farther back on the property. He stressed that the new house would be a stick-frame house, not a mobile or a modular. In the meantime, he has been staying with friends nearby.
At the time of the fire, Epps told The Flume, he had been staying next door, taking care of his neighbors' dogs and house while they were away. Indeed, he was awakened by the popping and crackling of the fire next door on the porch of his own house when he called 911 back in November. It was about 4 a.m. on Nov. 24 when the Guffey -based Southern Park County Fire Protection District was called out to the structure fire at 10872 County Road 102, the residence belonging to Epps.
Due to an odd aspect of the county's numbering system, all the addresses starting with the numbers "108" on County Road 102 are located on Witcher Mountain Road in the Four Mile subdivision about 10 miles east of Guffey.
The Southern Park County Fire Protection District responded with nine firefighters, an engine, a backup engine and a water tender. Mutual aid was called for from Florissant-based Four-Mile Fire Protection District, which responded with seven firefighters, two engines and a water tender. SPCFPD Fire Chief Gene Stanley extended is thanks for their timely response and help.
The double-wide mobile home was from the 1980s and was covered with very dry wood siding on the outside. The fire started outside the front door on the porch in a faulty electrical box and went up the outside wall and into the ceiling. It got into the floor, as well. The structure outside suffered minimal damage, but there was considerable damage to the interior.
In any emergency response, time is the enemy. In the case of this fire, most of the responding personnel had to drive at least 20 miles on very icy roads, according to Stanley, and that increased the response time.
Stanley said that the sad part is that there is a fire station about two miles up County Road 102 from the Epps home, but due to lack of volunteers in the immediate area, no one was able to respond from there.