House fire claims life of Powell resident

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A faulty electrical outlet is thought to be responsible for a house fire that claimed the life of a local man Saturday night in rural Powell.

Eddie Clayton Downer, 67, died in the house fire. An autopsy conducted Monday found that Downer died of smoke inhalation, according to Park County Deputy Coroner Denyce Reno.

Fire crews were dispatched at 9:15 p.m. Saturday evening to a home on Road 13 after a neighbor called to report the blaze. Crews arrived to find the structure fully engulfed in flames.

“The reporting officer decided the structure was compromised once we got there, so it was decided to attack it defensively from the outside,” said Powell Fire Chief Damian Dicks. “We had over 20 people out there [fighting the fire].”

After the fire was extinguished and an investigation was conducted, the fire inspector determined the cause to be electrical.

“It looked to be possibly a portable space heater was plugged into an electrical outlet, and that’s where the fire started,” Dicks said. He said no smoke detectors were found in the building.

“If there were smoke detectors, it’s possible the outcome could have been different,” Dicks said.  

The fire and its aftermath kept fire crews busy well into Sunday morning, with the trucks first on the scene finally released around 7:30 a.m. Additional firefighters were on scene until shortly after noon, ensuring there were no more hot spots.

Saturday’s fire was just days removed from another structure fire that destroyed a trailer in the Triangle Mobile Home Park in Powell last week. That blaze is also thought to have been caused by a space heater and that residence also did not have smoke detectors.

“It’s scary the number of houses we go to where there is a smoke detector on the wall, but it hasn’t worked in a long time,” Dicks said. “Please make sure you have a working smoke detector in your home. We want to let people know we’ll be there if they need us. Don’t hesitate to call 911.”

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