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Fire totals house east of Brighton

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By John Carr

BRIGHTON -- Firefighters continue to look for a cause of this morning's fire that destroyed a home valued at close to $750,000 and killed as many as four pets.

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It started around 4:30 Thursday morning. The home is in the 14700 block of Umpire Court, which is in Hudson. The family was home at the time and was able to get out of the house with the clothes on their backs and little else.

When firefighters arrived a major portion of the home was involved in fire. To complicate matters, firefighters were forced to deal with high winds, subfreezing temperatures and no close-by water. Water needed to be trucked in from nearly two miles away. Water tenders carrying 4,000 gallons of water each shuttled an estimated 150,000 gallons of water to the scene.

One of the residents said he woke up to loud explosions in the house. He ran downstairs and saw the attached garage was on fire. The man alerted his family, and everyone escaped.

Winds pushed the fire from the garage area to the main part of the house.

Firefighters from Brighton, Hudson, Bennett, Southeast Weld County and Fort Lupton also learned that the basement was full of approximately 10,000 live exotic reptiles and snakes and that the owner was still in the house attempting to rescue them. Fire crews wound up working to control the fire and to isolate the reptiles from the flames.

According to Brighton Fire Chief Mark Bodane, power was shut off to the main portion of the home; however, an attempt to keep the power on in the basement was made because the reptiles needed to be in temperatures above 90 degrees. The family owns and operates two exotic pet stores in the Denver metro area, and they bred the animals for sale at their stores as well as for show.

The family lost at least four dogs, and several exotic birds to the fire in addition to any of the reptiles in the basement. The fire also consumed four vehicles one of which was an expensive collector's car.

There were no reported injuries to the family or more than 50 firefighters. The cause of the fire is under investigation. The house is a total loss.