SHERIDAN — An investigator with the Wyoming State Fire Marshal’s Office has determined the cause of the fire at 11 Lower Piney Creek Road was electrical. The house is owned by local artist and philanthropist Neltje.
Investigator Richard Embrey also confirmed no art items were damaged in the blaze Sunday evening.
Embrey said the point of ignition for the house fire was in a bathroom on the second floor of a guest house on the south side of the building, where an old type of wiring was inappropriately connected to a radiant heat panel.
“What we have here is a catastrophic failure along the wires,” he said.
Embry went on to explain that the home was wired with an older type of electric wire called BX cable, which features a metal sheathing that acts as a ground around an electrical wire.
“If it grounds wrong, it tends to get hot until something like this happens,” Embrey said. “This was probably a defect from the day it was installed and just now failed.”
Embrey went on to say the rest of the house’s wiring is probably fine, but events like the one this weekend are unpredictable.
Sheridan Fire-Rescue was the first agency to respond to the emergency call at 7:41 p.m. and were later assisted by the Clearmont Volunteer Fire Department, Goose Valley Fire Department, Sheridan County Sheriff’s Office and Rocky Mountain Ambulance.
During the course of battling the fire, a SFR firefighter slipped and fell while on the roof of the structure, injuring his elbow. While the injury was minor, the firefighter was seen at Sheridan Memorial Hospital and released the same day.
Neltje’s estate has been willed to the University of Wyoming upon her death.