Renters from Avon Sunridge apartments fire facing long displacement
Multiple renters are displaced after blaze leaves five units uninhabitable
The fire that ravaged Building G in the Sunridge Apartments in Avon on April 11 has left five units uninhabitable, with several people now displaced. It could be 6 to 12 months before the units are rebuilt.
While the Christie Lodge has provided temporary housing, a more permanent solution will be needed, and Tsu Wolin-Brown with the Salvation Army, along with Bruce Gillie from the Red Cross, have been working to find accommodation for those who have been displaced.
Brown said the Sunridge fire victims comprise the full scale of needs, with some people having insurance, some being able to rely on local family for help, and others stuck with no insurance and no resources.
Christina Zito is one of the people who has both insurance and family nearby who will house her husband and her.
Brown said Zito politely declined any help so that the Salvation Army and the Red Cross could focus on the other victims.
“We’re displaced and we have our own battles to go through, but we have insurance and we’re from here, there’s such limited resources there at the Salvation Army, I want the resources to go to people who really are in need,” Zito said.
Zito is the longest live-in owner in the building; she has lived there more than 10 years. She said she had concerns about smoking policies and possible over-occupancy in the building, and said the devastation of the blaze could have been a lot worse.
“If this fire happens at night, there could have been loss of life, because of over-crowding,” she said.
Zito said a neighbor saw flames on a piece of outdoor porch furniture and immediately called 911. Zito said the quick reaction allowed everyone to get themselves and their animals out of the building.
“Everyone’s dogs got out because our amazing neighbor saw it so early and reacted so well in calling 911 so fast,” she said. “Then his second priority was to get us all out, and by the time I was getting out, police were already arriving and fire was right behind.”
Nevertheless, the flames quickly spread to the surrounding units. Five units will need to be completely rebuilt, and others are impacted, as well.
Red Cross on scene
The American Red Cross has rallied its team of volunteers to help. Community Volunteer Lead Bruce Gillie said the Red Cross will be providing services to the displaced fire victims for another week or so here in Eagle County.
The Red Cross has been in Eagle County often for fire-related issues, Gillie said. Multi-unit fires at the Minturn Trailer Park, Beaver Bench Condos in Avon, and Chambertin Townhomes in Avon have displaced numerous people in recent years.
Gillie said single-unit fires are somewhat common, as well. Red Cross volunteers get called to the area two to three times per year to help people displaced from fire.
“Every year, it gets harder to find places to put people,” he said.
Brown said the Salvation Army is feeling somewhat confident that it will be able to find new apartments for the displaced Sunridge renters who need it. The hard part, for the Salvation Army, is the hard part for any renter.
“We have to come up with first and last month’s rent and security deposit,” she said.
All told, it will add up to more than $5,000 per renter.
Another problem will arise when it comes time to furnish those units. And even the people who can move back into their units at Sunridge – those whose units won’t need to be completely rebuilt – will need new furniture, or the nearly $1,000 it can cost to clean those furniture items.
“Thankfully, The Vail Church has stepped up to help receive furniture from anyone who can donate,” Brown said.
Those with furniture who are willing to donate it to the displaced fire victims can contact Lenee@thevailchurch.com. Those willing to make a monetary donation can write “Sunridge Fire Avon Colorado” into their donation form on vail.salvationarmy.org/.