Wildernest fire destroys four condos
Summit County Correspondent
Vail CO, Colorado
WILDERNEST, Summit County, Colorado ” Residents at the Woodworks Condominium complex in Wildernest were helpless to do anything but watch on Sunday, as firefighters sorted through what was left of a four-unit complex completely destroyed by a fire late Saturday evening.
Fire crews responded to the complex a little after 11 p.m. when the downstairs residents at 6724 Ryan Gulch Rd. smelled smoke coming from upstairs. All residents were able to exit the building before fire crews arrived.
“We arrived to find the fire was fully involved and coming out of the upstairs windows,” Lake Dillon Fire-Rescue Deputy Chief Jeff Berino said Sunday.
“The upstairs was too engulfed so we had to take a defensive attack and shoot water from the outside.”
Once the fire had consumed the first unit, flames quickly spread to the neighboring condos, coming dangerously close to a stand of beetle-killed pine trees.
“It was lucky that there was no wind,” Berino said.
“These buildings are older, they are close together and, if it had spread to the trees, it could have been worse.”
Some 22 firefighters from Lake Dillon Fire-Rescue and Red, White and Blue Fire Protection assisted with extinguishing the blaze.
Two firefighters sustained minor cuts and were taken to St. Anthony Summit Medical Center where they were treated and released.
Fire authorities are now investigating the cause of the fire, and suspect it may have started on the first floor of the 6724 unit.
There were no fire alarms or sprinklers in any of the units.
“It’s completely destroyed,” unit owner Pegi Rapp said. “I had just painted the inside on Saturday because we were getting it ready for new renters to move in next week.
I am just so thankful I wasn’t in there with my daughter at the time.’
Ryan Hoffman was helping Rapp with the unit’s renovations, and returned to the condo late Saturday evening to find all of his efforts going up in flames.
“I had been working on the unit for over three weeks,” Hoffman said.
“All that work, plus almost $9,000 worth of equipment I had in there, is just gone.”
Fire crews say the entire four-unit complex will most likely need to be demolished and rebuilt due to the extent of the damage.
A project that could cost over $1 million, given the market price of condos in the area.
Chris Aycock, a resident at unit 6726, couldn’t help but shake his head in disbelief as he watched firefighters assess the damage to his home Sunday morning .
“I don’t know what is going to happen, and I’m guessing we’ll be displaced for at least six months,” Aycock said.
It may be weeks before fire investigators pinpoint the source of the fire that left several residents homeless, and Berino said an adequate fire suppression system could have prevented a lot of damage.
“One sprinkler head would have put this all out, but most older condos don’t have them,” Berino said.
“There is a lot of damage inside, we’re lucky no one was seriously hurt.”
Ashley Dickson can be reached at (970) 668-4629, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.