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For the week of April 11 through April 17, 2001

Fire causes $2 million in damages

Express Staff Writer

A 9,500-square-foot log home near the south end of Ketchum sustained an estimated $2 million in damages from a fire Monday evening.

A tower truck lifts Ketchum and Sun Valley firefighters to the roof of a south Ketchum home to attack flames that erupted Monday evening. Express photo Willy Cook

The Ketchum Fire Department received an alarm on the blaze at 5:22 p.m. after a neighbor spotted smoke coming from the unoccupied house at 222 Gem St. owned by Ken and Kathleen Fait.

Ketchum assistant fire chief Greg Schwab said 30 firefighters responded from the Ketchum and Sun Valley departments. They were accompanied by five engines, a tower truck, a rescue vehicle and two ambulances.

Schwab said the first Ketchum firefighters on the scene mounted an aggressive attack on flames burning in the homeís interior. That initial attack, he said, had the interior flames out in about 20 minutes and "really saved the property."

Schwab said an investigation on Tuesday indicated the fire had probably been started by either a faulty light or a lamp set too close to a combustible wooden shelf.

He said that after they extinguished the interior flames, firefighters set to work on spot fires and flames inside the cold roof.

"Itís a very complex roof design. They had to go through a lot of hand and power tools to gain access."

Schwab said it took firefighters, using foam, about four hours to extinguish the roof fire. He said a watch was posted throughout the night but the fire did not re-ignite.

Schwab said about 20 percent of the estimated damage came from flames and about 20 percent from heat. The rest, he said, was from smoke damage, which affected about 80 percent of the structure. An insurance company inspector was scheduled to look at the house today to give a more accurate account of the damages.

The home has been on the market at a price of about $3.6 million.

"We would encourage everyone to please check your smoke detector," Schwab said.

He said batteries should be changed every six months and detectors cleaned annually. He also recommended that anyone owning a house that spends long periods unoccupied sign up with a monitored smoke detection service.

Schwab recommended that families practice evacuation plans, too.


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