Steam or smoke? In cold weather sometimes it’s difficult to tell the difference. Just before 7 p.m. on Monday, October 26, 2020, Local members responded to a possible building fire at 7921 S. Platte Canyon Road in Jefferson County. The 911 caller reported dark smoke coming from the roof that appeared to be getting worse and smelled like burning oil. First arriving Battalion Chief 1 reported smoke showing from the roof of Eagle Automotive Service and assigned crews to check the interior of the business and the roof. Light smoke conditions were encountered inside but no abnormal heat was found. Members determined that a malfunctioning heater caused the smoke and thankfully it was discovered before a fire occurred.
During the winter SMFR often responds to calls about smoke coming from the roof commercial buildings and usually steam columns are to blame. How can you tell the difference between smoke and steam? Usually steam is light in color, the volume of steam remains consistent and there is no odor. Smoke is typically darker in color, it will worsen or become visible from other places of a structure, it will carry through the air longer distances and have a burning odor.
If you can’t tell the difference and you think smoke might be coming from a building, the best advice is to call 911 and report what you see. Dispatchers will ask for the address or intersection, your phone number and various questions to provide detailed information for the crews responding.