Matterhorn Inn a total loss |

Matterhorn Inn a total loss

VAIL — The cause of a Nov. 22 structure fire that destroyed three of 11 units at 1552 Matterhorn Circle has been determined to be accidental according to Fire Marshal Mike Vaughan of Vail Fire and Emergency Services. Due to heavy smoke damage to the remaining eight units and extensive damage to the roof, the building has been declared uninhabitable. The building was built in 1972 and dollar loss is estimated at $1.3 million.

Vaughan said the fire started in unit six of the single story Matterhorn Inn complex when either a log or embers ignited combustible materials around the base of the fireplace. No one was injured, but three domestic cats died in the fire. Two other cats were evacuated.

Fire units were dispatched to the residences at 5:20 a.m. Nov. 22 while one of the tenants was on the phone with dispatch to file a noise complaint about the unit. Upon arrival, firefighters found three of the units engulfed in flames and immediately began suppression operations while checking to make sure the units had all been evacuated. The fire was brought under control within 25 minutes and extinguished approximately 90 minutes after fire crews were on scene.

Thirteen people were residing in the complex at the time of the fire. Three of the units were owner-occupied, while the remaining units were leased. Tenants were escorted back to the fire scene Nov. 23 to salvage valuables and personal items. The Red Cross and Salvation Army provided immediate short-term services to at least one displaced individual.

Fire officials say the incident provides several lessons:

• Keep combustibles clear from around any wood-burning appliance and to refrain from overloading a firebox.

• After lighting a fire, ensure that screens or protective enclosures are properly in place.

• Never leave a fireplace or wood burning appliance unattended at any time.

• A properly installed smoke detector is critical any time, but especially when you have a wood burning appliance in use.

For more information, call Vaughan, 970-479-2252.

Support Local Journalism