Water boil order lifted in Red Cliff | VailDaily.com

Water boil order lifted in Red Cliff

by Christine Ina Casillas

Two weeks after a fire destroyed two buildings, Red Cliff’s water boil order has been lifted – again.

The Colorado Department of Health gave the town the go ahead Sept. 27 to lift the emergency boil order, said Guy Patterson, Red Cliff town manager.

“We’re off boil order,” Patterson said. “And it was done quickly, starting the day of the fire.”

Residents should still run each water tap for at least 10 minutes before using the water, Patterson said.

When a fire burned down two apartment complexes in Red Cliff Sept. 19, the water pressure wasn’t strong enough to withstand the flames, Patterson said. Because of low water pressure, the town issued an immediate boil order as a way to keep the pressure high enough to fight the flames that left a group of residents homeless.

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Patterson also said that during the early stages of the fire, firefighters decided to bypass Red Cliff’s water treatment plant and pump raw creek water straight from Turkey Creek into fire hydrants.

“As soon as we got on the boil order, we worked with the state that day on how to get off it immediately,” he said. “We didn’t want to go on (boil order), because it’s an interruption for our residents, but this was a unique case.”

For two years, the drinking water in Red Cliff was unclean and unhealthy. But the order to boil all water before drinking it was lifted in early June. The reinstatement was only a temporary problem to fight the fire, Patterson said.

The fire that destroyed the old Red Cliff bank building and the Red Cliff Lodge – both now apartment complexes on Eagle Street – began around 9:30 a.m., and injured one woman. The fire in the bank building was ruled an accident, but the cause of the fire in the old lodge, to the south of the bank, is still being investigated.

According to Eagle River Fire Protection District officials, the fire in the lodge began in the living room of the second floor apartment. Some officials say that it might have been a candle or electrical wiring, but was not arson.

“It could have been a faulty appliance, a bad wire, sometimes it’s a combination of things,” said Kathy Warren, spokeswoman for the Eagle River Fire Protection District.

Extinguishing the fire also was hampered by the age and construction of the buildings, fire officials said.

The fire spread but there was no damage to either the multi-family apartments east of the building or Mango’s Mountain Grill. Mango’s owner Eric Cregon, who jumped on the roof of his building with a garden hose to help, said the damage to his building was minimal.

“I got lucky, but I have to wait until the buildings get torn down before I know exactly how much damage was done,” Cregon said. “There was about three gallons of water inside, and I need to patch a new section of the roof, new gutters on the back, and there was some loss of paper goods. But compared to everybody else … I got lucky.”

The residents who lived in the apartment buildings lost everything, friends said.

“The community has been so amazing since the fire,” said fire victim Kyle Simard.

Simard and boyfriend Michael Broermann had just moved into the apartment six weeks before the fire, but they were looking for other places to live a few days before the blaze broke out, she said.

“We’re living in a furnished house,” she said. “It’s inspiring how nice people are … It’s amazing.”

Christine Ina Casillas can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 607 or at ccasillas@vaildaily.com.

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