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>>

  • Police investigate Hinesburg woman shot by male relative

    Police investigate Hinesburg woman shot by male relative

    Thursday, April 24 2014 10:08 PM EDT2014-04-25 02:08:02 GMT
    Vermont State Police and Hinesburg police were on the scene at a shooting in Hinesburg at 8:45 p.m. Thursday night.Officials say a 71-year-old man shot a female relative. She was shot in the hand and chest and taken to Fletcher Allen Health Care where she is currently in stable condition.The man is in custody and police say there is currently no motive for the shooting and that there were no prior issues with the relatives.Police are currently still investigating the shooting.More >>
    Vermont State Police and Hinesburg police were on the scene at a shooting in Hinesburg at 8:45 p.m. Thursday night.Officials say a 71-year-old man shot a female relative. She was shot in the hand and chest and taken to Fletcher Allen Health Care where she is currently in stable condition.The man is in custody and police say there is currently no motive for the shooting and that there were no prior issues with the relatives.Police are currently still investigating the shooting.More >>
  • Hinesburg man in custody after alleged shooting

    Hinesburg man in custody after alleged shooting

    Thursday, April 24 2014 11:56 PM EDT2014-04-25 03:56:35 GMT
    Police say a 71-year-old man is in custody accused of shooting a female relative in the hand and chest around 8:30 Thursday evening.The incident happened on Richmond Road. The Hinesburg police chief says the man was arrested without incident. He and the victim are long time residents of Hinesburg. Detectives are still investigating what sparked the shooting. But the chief says neither the victim nor the shooter have had any interactions with police before this. The woman was taken to Fletche...More >>
    Police say a 71-year-old man is in custody accused of shooting a female relative in the hand and chest around 8:30 Thursday evening.The incident happened on Richmond Road. The Hinesburg police chief says the man was arrested without incident. He and the victim are long time residents of Hinesburg. Detectives are still investigating what sparked the shooting. But the chief says neither the victim nor the shooter have had any interactions with police before this. The woman was taken to Fletche...More >>
  • Springfield police search for armed robber

    Springfield police search for armed robber

    Friday, April 25 2014 12:00 AM EDT2014-04-25 04:00:49 GMT
    Springfield Police need your help to find an armed robber. They say yesterday a white man carrying a semi-automatic handgun held-up the Jenny Wren Café on Main Street. The suspect is described as 19-29 with a slight build and no taller than 5-foot-9.Police say he had a dark buzz cut, acne, and was wearing a red Ecko hooded sweatshirt.If you have any information on the robbery call Springfield Police.More >>
    Springfield Police need your help to find an armed robber. They say yesterday a white man carrying a semi-automatic handgun held-up the Jenny Wren Café on Main Street. The suspect is described as 19-29 with a slight build and no taller than 5-foot-9.Police say he had a dark buzz cut, acne, and was wearing a red Ecko hooded sweatshirt.If you have any information on the robbery call Springfield Police.More >>
  • Arlington man facing an animal cruelty

    Arlington man facing an animal cruelty

    Friday, April 25 2014 12:03 AM EDT2014-04-25 04:03:45 GMT
    An Arlington man is facing an animal cruelty charge after police say they found a dead dog on this property.It happened at 2760 VT Route 313. Troopers were at Rick Thompson's home investigating a burglary involving a wood burning stove when they discovered the dog. Thompson told police the dog died from kennel cough but a vet later determined the dog had been starved to death. The 47-year-old is due in court next month.More >>
    An Arlington man is facing an animal cruelty charge after police say they found a dead dog on this property.It happened at 2760 VT Route 313. Troopers were at Rick Thompson's home investigating a burglary involving a wood burning stove when they discovered the dog. Thompson told police the dog died from kennel cough but a vet later determined the dog had been starved to death. The 47-year-old is due in court next month.More >>
  • Robber hits the same bank twice?

    Robber hits the same bank twice?

    Thursday, April 24 2014 7:01 PM EDT2014-04-24 23:01:18 GMT
    A security guard and bank manager at the People's United in St. Albans held a would-be robber until police arrived. And investigators think he is the same man who robbed the bank Monday.More >>
    A security guard and bank manager at the People's United in St. Albans held a would-be robber until police arrived. And investigators think he is the same man who robbed the bank Monday.More >>
  • Man shot by Vt. cop faces charges

    Man shot by Vt. cop faces charges

    Thursday, April 24 2014 7:31 PM EDT2014-04-24 23:31:24 GMT
    A man shot by an officer inside the Bennington police station faces charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.More >>
    A man shot by an officer inside the Bennington police station faces charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.More >>
  • Man charged in Vt. teacher killing wants confession tossed

    Man charged in Vt. teacher killing wants confession tossed

    Thursday, April 24 2014 2:29 PM EDT2014-04-24 18:29:39 GMT
    A Vermont man charged with killing a popular St. Johnsbury teacher is asking a judge to exclude from his upcoming trial a detailed confession he gave to police investigators.More >>
    A Vermont man charged with killing a popular St. Johnsbury teacher is asking a judge to exclude from his upcoming trial a detailed confession he gave to police investigators.More >>
  • 2 Vermont men charged in guns and drug case

    2 Vermont men charged in guns and drug case

    Thursday, April 24 2014 2:13 PM EDT2014-04-24 18:13:57 GMT
    Two Vermont men are facing federal charges stemming from the left of firearms from a Hardwick gun store and the trading of some of those guns for drugs.More >>
    Two Vermont men are facing federal charges stemming from the left of firearms from a Hardwick gun store and the trading of some of those guns for drugs.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.