West Vail fire causes $50K in damage
VAIL, Colorado – A chimney fire in a Vail condo complex caused $50,000 in damages and forced residents to evacuate.
Vail firefighters responded to a two-alarm structure fire at 8:16 p.m. Tuesday, at 1860 Meadow Ridge Road in Vail’s Buffehr Creek neighborhood. Flames were visible from Interstate 70 and several motorists called 911 to report the fire, said Vail Fire Chief Mark Miller.
Moments after the first call came in, firefighters were on the scene to find flames coming from the roof.
“Looking at the times, it took us one minute from the new West Vail station to be on-scene,” Miller said.
In three minutes the crew from the main Vail fire station was on the scene, still fast, Miler said, but those three minutes would have changed everything.
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“In our game, with fire doubling every 17-30 seconds, three minutes is all the time in the world,” Miller said.
In three minutes the fire could have spread to the attic, and that’s a much different set of problems, Miller said.
They were able to respond with two engine companies and a ladder truck.
“If there’s such a thing as a perfect scenario to indicate that West Vail Station 3 is important, this is it,” Miller said.
When the fire broke out, the four-story Buffehr Creek condo complex was occupied with 20 tenants in 10 units. Tenants told firefighters they were unaware of the fire until someone banged on their doors to alert them to evacuate, fire officials said.
Firefighters hustled up the back stairs hauling hoses, while fire crews immediately began securing the building and making sure everyone was safely evacuated, Miller said.
A town of Vail bus was brought to the scene to provide shelter for the displaced residents.
The fire was under control by 8:33 p.m. and fully extinguished by 9:40 p.m. Damage was contained to the roof structure around the chimneys.
Tenants in eight of the 10 units were allowed to return to their homes Tuesday night, while tenants of the two remaining units stayed with friends overnight. They were allowed to return home Wednesday.
There were no injuries.
The initial cause of the fire appears to have started in a chimney that spread to the roof, said Mike McGee, an investigator with the Vail Fire Department.
Damage is estimated at $50,000, McGee said.
The North Frontage Road was closed while fire crews worked the blaze.
“The chance for chimney and heat tape fires increase in the winter. It’s always important to check that your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are working,” McGee said.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.