Blaze consumes Avon condo complex
May 29, 2012
AVON, Colo. – A fire that shot flames high into the afternoon sky engulfed an Avon condo complex Monday, but no one was seriously hurt.
The fire was reported at 4:06 p.m., calling several firefighters, law enforcement personnel and EMTs away from a Memorial Day ceremony down the road in Edwards’ Freedom Park.
Firefighters from the Eagle River Fire Protection District were on the scene at the Chambertin Condominiums on Nottingham Road in minutes, pouring water on the flames as fast as they could and keeping the fire from spreading to surrounding homes and land.
The three-story, four-unit Chambertin complex, which is just north of Interstate 70, was destroyed. Three units were occupied at the time of the fire, officials said, and one of the occupants was taken to Vail Valley Medical Center to be treated for smoke inhalation. The person was later released, authorities said. A firefighter was also treated and released at Avon Urgent Care.
John Melot and his wife own the Chambertin condo on the complex’s farthest west side.
He was visiting a friend in Wildridge, Joe Schlegel, when the fire broke out below.
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“We could see the smoke from my house,” Schlegel said.
Melot’s wife called John to tell him what was happening and that they were getting out as fast as they could. He was down the hill and on the scene in minutes, he said.
“She and our little girl got out, and that’s what really matters,” Melot said.
Then, amid the spray from fire hoses and the smoke from their ruined condo, he put it all in perspective.
“It’s just stuff. It could have been a lot worse,” Melot said.
The fire jumped Nottingham Road and started down some landscaping timbers on the other side, closer to Interstate 70. Residents were stomping on the flames and spraying them with water hoses when firefighters arrived.
Fire also jumped up the hillside above the condo complexes, but wildland crews consisting of five engines and 20 crew members quickly knocked it down and contained it to 3 acres.
Tyler, who declined to give his last name, owns the condo the Nightstar Residences on the west side, closest to Chambertin.
“The whole building next to ours went up,” Tyler said.
He just bought his condo this summer, and was home with two roommates, Omar and Matt, when the fire broke out. All three declined to give their last names.
He had his door open and smelled the smoke. When he looked outside and saw the flames, he shouted to his roommates, and they hit the door running. Omar grabbed some computer gear. Tyler and Matt escaped with the clothes on their backs.
“We ran out with our hoses and tried to put some stuff out, but it was just too much,” Tyler said.
Buildings for hundreds of yards around were evacuated, but most of the damage was restricted to the Chambertin complex.
Lucy Cummings and Lauren Schmidt were among those evacuated, jumping into their car packed with personal belongings. Cummings has already lost one house to a wildfire, in the 2000 fires around Los Alamos, N.M.
None of the inhabitants of the three buildings immediately around the demolished Chambertin complex were allowed back home Monday night. Nottingham Road was expected to remain closed through the night, while access to Wildridge was allowed via Buck Creek Road. Power was shut off to the Nottingham Road neighborhood.
Paul McLaughlin is a former firefighter and was home at a nearby condo complex when the fire broke out.
“As soon as I smelled the smoke, I knew it was a house fire,” McLaughlin said.
R.G. Jacobs is the property manager of the Chambertin. He stood behind a police barricade watching the property burn to the ground.
A Colorado Bureau of Investigation arson investigator arrived late Monday to start sifting through the burned rubble. It’s standard procedure in fires that cause this much damage, said Mike McWilliam, undersheriff with the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.
Firefighters from agencies all around the area responded to the three-alarm blaze, some from as far away as Glenwood Springs.