Cooking accident may have sparked Avon fire; cause remains under investigation following Saturday morning blaze | VailDaily.com

Cooking accident may have sparked Avon fire; cause remains under investigation following Saturday morning blaze

AVON — The investigation continues as officials try to determine exactly how a Saturday morning, Aug. 25, fire started in Avon's Beaver Bench Condominiums.

However, until a structural engineer says the building is safe to enter, no one will be poking around inside, including investigators, said Tracy LeClair, community risk manager with the Eagle River Fire Protection District.

Information is limited so far, but it appears that the fire might have been sparked by someone cooking inside one of the condos, LeClair said. It appears six condominiums were damaged, but that, too, remains under investigation.

"We'll learn more as the investigation continues," LeClair said.

How quickly it grew

In the meantime, the Salvation Army and Red Cross are assisting the displaced residents. Eagle County Animal Control provided crates and pet food for the evacuated pets.

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Among those displaced are Josh and Wahn Hall.

"The Red Cross and Salvation Army have been very helpful. It's an amazing community," Hall said.

The fire started in a condo adjacent to theirs and quickly spread, damaging several units. Josh and Wahn got out with the clothes they were wearing and nothing else.

They lost everything but Josh's legendary sense of humor.

"I can't go in there to get my lucky alien decoder ring. The guys who sold it to me said it was not from this world, so it wouldn't burn," Hall said, joking.

The stuff that's left is easy to spot, he said.

"All my stuff is on the lawn. If you want to see Josh Hall's stuff, go by there and look, it's on display," Hall said.

Hall said he was surprised by how fast the fire grew.

"I thought it would be knocked down quickly, that it would be a kitchen fire and we'd be back in there in 15 minutes," Hall said. "I've never been involved in a fire before. It surprised me how quickly it spread."

When Hall went around back, both his condo and the neighbor's were engulfed.

After firefighters "poured an ocean on it," as Josh Hall said, Chief Karl Bauer and others went inside to pull out some essential personal items for Beaver Bench residents.

"He went in and found some essentials for us and others. That was risky," Hall said.

Beaver Bench is two buildings of two-story condos facing Nottingham Lake. The center of Building A burned.

The fire victims are in a local motel until Tuesday, Aug. 28. After that, they'll need someplace to stay — preferably indoors.

"That's the biggest need, somewhere to live for the next eight months to a year while the building is being rebuilt. Most of us have insurance, but it doesn't cover the costs of things in the Vail Valley," Hall said.

When it started

The fire started late Saturday morning, Aug. 25. The Eagle River Fire Protection District responded at 11:30 a.m. and began evacuating residents and pets, as they launched their initial attack on the blaze. Smoke and flames were visible from a ground floor unit on the backside of one of the buildings.

The fire was under control by approximately 1 p.m. Crews remained on scene for a few more hours, conducting overhaul and checking for hot spots in the attic space. The fire was called completely out at approximately 4:30 p.m. Saturday.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and rwyrick@vaildaily.com.

How to help

Friends and family have started a GoFundMe page for those impacted by the Beaver Bench condo fire.