By Melissa Garcia
IDAHO SPRINGS, Colo. (CBS4) – A fire that authorities believe was intentionally started destroyed a vast collection of irreplaceable artwork in a home near Idaho Springs.
Friends of homeowner Dave Shelton say that he had spent the last 25 years hand-building the three-story log house that went up in flames Saturday. Shelton lost not only the home, but also a vast collection of art and family heirlooms that he carved by hand.
“(He’s) a very talented carver,” said Dale Plummer, a neighbor of Shelton.
As volunteer firefighters sprayed water onto the dirt Sunday, sunlight exposed some of the now charred wood carvings.
Hand-carved guitars, totem poles, and animal figurines were ruined by the blaze that deputies are investigating as arson.
Off-camera, Shelton told CBS4’s Melissa Garcia that an evicted tenant is the suspect responsible for setting the house on fire.
A friend set up a GoFundMe campaign asking for donations to help Shelton get back on his feet.
The web page also posted a before-and-after photo of the property.
“(I’m) sorry Dave lost his house,” Plummer said. “I mean, you can’t express the feeling that you have about that.”
Plummer worried that the flames would make their way down the entire mountain. Luckily, they didn’t, leaving him grateful to firefighters for their work, to the county for calling in air support, and even to the alleged arsonist who apparently had a heavy conscience just moments after setting the home ablaze.
“Had he not called and said, ‘I set this fire,’ we all might be looking at frames,” Plummer said.
Authorities took one person into custody but had not released his identity.
“What would possess somebody to burn somebody’s house down? Something that you had built, yourself,” Plummer added. “Dave will recover from this. Dave is a strong person. As strong as you can be when you’ve lost everything you own.”