Report by Mick Woodworth
At 1604 on May 28, Memorial Day, firefighters responded to a large multi-alarm fire at an apartment complex in Avon, Colorado.
Temperatures were in the mid 70s with wind gusts up to 25 mph to the east. Eagle River Fire of Avon (next to Vail) was dispatched to a structure fire at the Chambertin Townhomes, which contained six units, mostly rentals.
The first-due engine, Engine 5, called for second alarm. An update told of possible occupant located in unit above initial fire unit. E-5 accessed the unit from the C side but no occupant was found. E-5 moved to the A side of the building for suppression.
Building collapse began with one or two minutes from when E-5 arrived. Battalion 7, Engine 12, Engine 7, and Engine 11 arrived. B-7 began defensive suppression and ordered a third alarm and a strike team of Type-6 engines to battle the wildland fire that had begun behind the structure. Ladder 15 and Vail Fire’s Ladder 3 arrived and began relay operations and elevated master stream operations.
At this point, the D side (east) exposure had major fire damage and was close to ignition. The C side was parking area for fire building, all vehicles in the parking area were involved because of radiant heat and direct contact because of the collapse.
Crews were battling this fire from A side with three master streams and two 2 1/2-inch handlines. The C side had four hand lines and the D exposure had a crew on the roof attacking the fire on the exposed side, in the parapet walls, on the roof, and the awnings over the decks on D exposure and the A and B sides. Fire brands had also landed on a parking structure behind the exposure building and extinguishment from roof and from the interior of the garage was necessary. The urban interface fire (the Night Star Fire) fight began with several crew from neighboring agencies, about five acres in size. Both firefights went into the evening. The town home fire brought responders from eight fire districts. The fire was called out 36 hours later due to hot spots and other smoldering.