Fire-ravaged condos lacked latest safety equipment - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Fire-ravaged condos lacked latest safety equipment

Posted: Updated:
Courtesy: Andy Yager Courtesy: Andy Yager
WARREN, Vt. -

The wreckage of what used to be part of the Mountainside condos smolders more than a day after fire swept through the 36 unit complex.

Neighbors like Ditmar Kopf recall waking up to the shocking scene early Monday.

"The flames were shooting through the top of the building, over the tops of the trees," Kopf said.

The official cause of Monday's blaze is still under investigation, but sources tell WCAX News it was likely a wood burning stove. Kopf, who works as a ski instructor and owns a similar unit next door, says most of his neighbors are aware the buildings are older and don't have today's fire safety features.

"I worry more about the renters that come in occasionally and might not be aware of hazards of the fireplace," Kopf said. "I've heard people go to bed with the fireplace or people trying to use it to heat the apartments and it's not really what they're meant for."

All the units of the complex were occupied when the fire broke out. State officials say even though a manual central alarm system was never pulled, everyone got out safe.

This and many other similar condo units around the state that were built in the 1970s are exempt from today's modern building codes that include one-hour fire walls and sprinkler systems.

"Without the fire separation between the dwelling units and without sprinkler system protection, these fires are very hard to control once they get up into the attic areas," said Michael Derochers of the Vt. Division of Fire Safety.

Mountainside's property manager, Ed Read, says installing a sprinkler system has not been a priority for the condo association.

"Retrofitting a sprinkler system-- it's a big expense and the condominium association every year spends money on different capital projects. This one does not have a sprinkler system," Read said.

Fire officials say the problem is these older vacation condo units are everywhere.

"We have a lot of older stock," Derochers said. "We also have a lot of these condominium-type structures that we haven't inspected, so we try to be proactive getting out and inspecting them. But we have a high demand on our resources now just keeping up with the new construction."

Although Sugarbush Resort does not own the Mountainside condos, it is involved with property management of other units. And officials say visitors should not be concerned about safety.

"Unfortunately, things can happen. They can happen in a new building as well as an old building, as well. We try to make sure that what we represent is certainly safe," said Win Smith of the Sugarbush Resort.

Because you never know who's living in the next unit, fire safety officials say it's good for both residents and visitors to have a plan, something Ditmar Kopf is already on top of.

"We all have our evacuation plans just in case there is a fire," Kopf said.

Initial estimates of the damage were put at $2 million, but officials here say it's likely to run much higher.

Related Stories:

Firefighters keeping a close eye on Sugarbush scene overnight

Fire destroys condos near Sugarbush

  • Local NewsMore>>

  • Snowmobile season officially ends

    Snowmobile season officially ends

    Wednesday, April 16 2014 1:08 AM EDT2014-04-16 05:08:12 GMT
    Today marks the end of the snowmobile season. The Vermont Association of Snow Travelers reports a banner year with the best riding conditions in years. VAST says next year snowmobilers will be able toMore >>
    Today marks the end of the snowmobile season. The Vermont Association of Snow Travelers reports a banner year with the best riding conditions in years. VAST says next year snowmobilers will be able toMore >>
  • A big honor for a Burlington teen

    A big honor for a Burlington teen

    Wednesday, April 16 2014 1:06 AM EDT2014-04-16 05:06:26 GMT
    16-year-old Yusuf Abdi was named 2014 Vermont Boys & Girls Club Youth of the Year. He received the award during a celebration at the State House today. Judges called him extraordinary for his age, articulate,More >>
    16-year-old Yusuf Abdi was named 2014 Vermont Boys & Girls Club Youth of the Year. He received the award during a celebration at the State House today.More >>
  • Blood donor honored for his contributions

    Blood donor honored for his contributions

    Wednesday, April 16 2014 1:04 AM EDT2014-04-16 05:04:54 GMT
    There are your average blood donors who might give once or twice a year and then there is Frank Sklenarik. He's donated 140 units or 17-and-half gallons of blood since becoming a donor in 1996. Today theMore >>
    There are your average blood donors who might give once or twice a year and then there is Frank Sklenarik. He's donated 140 units or 17-and-half gallons of blood since becoming a donor in 1996. Today theMore >>
  • Weather rollercoaster wreaks havoc across the state

    Weather rollercoaster wreaks havoc across the state

    Wednesday, April 16 2014 12:07 AM EDT2014-04-16 04:07:42 GMT
    Rain, flooding and now snow. This weather rollercoaster is causing problems all around our region. Temps have dropped so the heavy rainfall has switched to snow. Rivers are spilling their banks, roadsMore >>
    Rain, flooding and now snow. This weather rollercoaster is causing problems all around our region. Temps have dropped so the heavy rainfall has switched to snow.More >>
  • Rutland mom caught stealing Easter goodies

    Rutland mom caught stealing Easter goodies

    Wednesday, April 16 2014 1:07 AM EDT2014-04-16 05:07:35 GMT
    A Rutland mom is busted for stealing goodies for her child's Easter basket.  22-year-old Monica Barker pleaded guilty to swiping about $70 in merchandise from Wal-mart. Police say most of the stolen itemsMore >>
    A Rutland mom is busted for stealing goodies for her child's Easter basket.  22-year-old Monica Barker pleaded guilty to swiping about $70 in merchandise from Wal-mart. Police say most of the stolen itemsMore >>
  • Warnings about rising rivers across our region

    Warnings about rising rivers across our region

    Tuesday, April 15 2014 8:08 PM EDT2014-04-16 00:08:37 GMT
    Flood warnings are in effect around our region as heavy rains begin to move through. There is already localized flooding at some of the typical problem spots, like the wrong-way bridge on Route 15 inMore >>
    Parts of our region are already flooding and others are bracing as heavy rains move through. Not only is rain falling fast, but warm temperatures Monday melted snow, adding to high waters.More >>
  • Man rescued from Black River in Springfield

    Man rescued from Black River in Springfield

    Tuesday, April 15 2014 7:06 PM EDT2014-04-15 23:06:00 GMT
    A man had to be pulled from the Black River in Springfield Tuesday morning. The Hartford Fire Department says it's working to pull a man out from the river. They say he got stuck about 75 feet out inMore >>
    Vermont emergency workers have rescued a man stranded in the middle of a treacherous section of river in downtown Springfield.
    More >>
  • NH agrees Vt. man was insane during killing

    NH agrees Vt. man was insane during killing

    Tuesday, April 15 2014 2:49 PM EDT2014-04-15 18:49:26 GMT
    A Vermont man charged with stabbing a stranger to death in the lobby of a New Hampshire hotel last year will plead not guilty by reason of insanity.More >>
    A Vermont man charged with stabbing a stranger to death in the lobby of a New Hampshire hotel last year will plead not guilty by reason of insanity.More >>
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and WCAX. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.