Grand Aspen rumor doused |

Grand Aspen rumor doused

Janet Urquhart

The vacant Grand Aspen hotel is scheduled to be razed next month, but there are no plans to burn it to the ground.

Rumors that the Aspen Volunteer Fire Department intends to torch the 150-room hotel for practice were put out quickly after they flared up at the Aspen City Council meeting Monday.

Firefighters will, however, be using the empty hotel for training purposes on Saturday and again on April 7, according to Deputy Fire Chief Orrin Moon.

Neighbors may notice smoke briefly coming from the hotel on Saturday morning, when the department conducts “live fire” training for members in need of the experience in order to obtain their state certification, he said.

A more extensive, joint training exercise involving Aspen and Snowmass Village firefighters is planned April 7, according to Moon. The exercise will take four to five hours and may involve several small fires, training in smoke ventilation and aerial firefighting from a ladder truck, he said.

“We’re definitely not going to be burning the whole building to the ground,” Moon said.

Local resident Peter Fornell appeared before the City Council to object to any fire training taking place in the hotel, located at the base of Aspen Mountain.

“If that fire got out of control, I don’t think the Aspen Fire Department has the manpower to control it,” he said.

“That’s probably a good assumption,” Moon said. “That’s why we’re doing it in the concrete rooms and aren’t doing it in the other part of the building, which is all wood.”

Firefighters will use the eastern section of the hotel for the training because the rooms in that section are constructed with concrete, according to Moon. Wood and paper will be ignited within the rooms to simulate the type of fires the department typically encounters – a room and its contents ablaze.

Smoke will be visible briefly on Saturday and from time to time on April 7, but firefighters hope to keep it to a minimum, Moon said.

“We’re concerned about pollution also. We’re not going to cause a lot of smoke to be coming out of the building for long periods of time,” he said.

The Grand Aspen is among the property holdings recently sold by Savanah Limited Partnership to a group of local and national investors. The new owners are seeking approval to replace the hotel with a 50-suite fractional ownership project to be run by the Hyatt Vacation Club.

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