Cause of fire in Grand Lake condominiums under investigation
February 1, 2009
As ashes mixed with a light snow Friday morning Grand County firefighters battled a blaze at Shoreline Landing Condominiums in Grand Lake.
That morning Unit 14 resident Marvin Pinkert woke up about 5:15 a.m. to the smell of smoke. When he couldn’t find the source in he and his wife Marlene’s home, he went outside. From the driveway he could see the garage of a neighboring unit was fully engulfed by flames and he immediately called 911.
The couple, thought to be the only residents that live in the condo complex year-round, gathered their standard poodle champions Rapp and Blue, vacated and drove to the corner. He didn’t even brush the snow off their car.
“It wasn’t just a little fire,” Marv said, adding that the heat was so intense they could feel it 40 feet away.
Dispatch received the call at 5:35 a.m. and as the Pinkerts watched helplessly from the corner, firefighters from across the county, emergency medical teams, and Grand County Sheriff’s deputies responded to the east shore of Shadow Mountain Reservoir. By 10 a.m. crews from the Grand Lake Fire Protection District, East Grand Fire Protection District No. 4, Grand Fire Protection District No. 1/Granby, and the Hot Sulphur Springs Fire Department worked together to get the fire under control. Members of the Grand County Emergency Medical Service and Office of Emergency Management were also on hand.
Fire had engulfed units 9 and 10 of the condo complex, and throughout the morning and afternoon the fire continued to spread. The fire eventually caused damage to six adjoining condos and garages (including Units 7, 8, 11 and 12). Units 13 and 14 were saved, Marv said, but Unit 13 sustained significant smoke damage.
He said professionals could probably come in and clean out the smoke smell in he and Marlene’s unit, which they’ve owned for 20 years, but guessed the Shoreline Landing II Homeowner’s Association will have to look into the structural integrity of the complex. He estimates at least six of the eight units, located in the center, are “teardowns.”
The property is within about 12 feet of the Arapaho National Forest boundary, Marv guessed, and said he was glad the fire did not spread farther south. He and Marlene, who were “weekenders in the old days” and have lived here full time for 14 years, greatly admire a stand of Englemann spruce nearby. One just outside their unit, which they had dated, proved to be around 400 years old.
Without utilities to the complex the Pinkerts are now renting a house. Marv estimated there are only about three homes on the south side of the channel that have people all winter. He and Marlene hadn’t seen the occupants of the unit where the blaze originally started since the New Year’s Eve holiday. Former next-door condo neighbor Barb Hammond, who now lives in a home adjacent to the complex in Shoreline Landing I, opened up her garage to allow a place for volunteers to warm up.
Firefighters were able to declare the fire under control by 12:15 p.m. An investigator was on scene but the cause of the fire is still unknown.
Although rumors of arson were already circulating throughout the county by Saturday morning, Marv said he always checks for tracks when his neighbors are gone and hadn’t seen anything out of the ordinary.
Some people called the condos “stack shacks” because they were brought in on trucks as modulars, and Marv said the electrical wires were snapped together with connectors when the units were put together. Because they sparked at times the HOA had replaced those connectors they could locate about 10 years ago. Marv said he isn’t sure all the connectors had been found.