Crews from Ketchum Fire
Department prepare to enter the burning structure at 271 Second Ave. North on
Sunday evening to attack the raging fire from the inside of the building.
Firefighters first worked to ensure the fire did not spread to adjacent
structures. A total of 55 firefighters from four Wood River Valley fire
departments reported to the scene.
Express photos by Willy
Blaze consumes Ketchum businesses
Damage to house, equipment
estimated at $500,000
By GREGORY FOLEY
Express Staff Writer
Fire investigators Tuesday
had not yet determined the exact cause of an intense structure fire in central
Ketchum Sunday night that destroyed two businesses and three residential units.
"The area of origin
seems to be around the electric water heater," Kecthum Fire Chief Greg
Schwab said Tuesday afternoon, after investigating the blaze for the better part
of two days. Schwab said two investigative specialists from out of state were
scheduled to arrive in the Wood River Valley Tuesday to research and determine
the cause of the fire.
The fire Sunday night gutted
a residential and business structure at 271 Second Ave. North, the site of The
Tanning Service tanning salon and The Answering Service message and voice-mail
The building and the two
businesses are owned by Ketchum resident Lyn Stallard, who resides in one of the
three apartments in the building, but was out of town Sunday.
"I’m just in total
shock," Stallard said Monday from New York City. "I’ve been told it’s
a total loss… My car was even damaged.
"But I want my customers
to know that I’m working on this. I’m going to see how I can get the
businesses up and running."
Stallard said she was
relieved that neither of two people residing in the building at the time, tenant
Todd Matney and niece Lesley Fox, was injured by the fire.
"They’re both OK.
Thank God for that," she said.
Schwab said the Ketchum Fire
Department was notified of the blaze at 7:42 p.m. Sunday via a 911 call.
Firefighting teams from Ketchum and Sun Valley were dispatched immediately. They
later received support from Wood River Fire & Rescue and the Hailey Fire
Department, he said.
The fire chief said because
Matney and Fox had delayed calling the fire department while they attempted to
extinguish the blaze, the flames by 7;45 p.m. were engulfing much of the
Firefighters within about
five minutes had prevented the fire from crossing over into the adjacent Pioneer
Montessori School and other nearby buildings, Schwab noted. The fire was
"put down" in approximately 30 minutes, but crews stayed on the scene
tending to hot spots "well into the evening," he said.
Matney and Fox were
"checked out" by paramedics, who determined that they did not need
hospital treatment, Schwab said. "They were obviously startled and excited
by the fire," he said, noting that three dogs in the building were also
Stallard said the building
had recently been renovated, and was being prepared to launch a new art gallery
firefighters made special efforts to salvage computer equipment, tanning
equipment and works of art—said the losses were significant. "The
preliminary loss figure from the insurance company is $500,000, but that will
likely be adjusted later," he said.
Schwab said the fire could
not be prevented from destroying the building because it started in the lower
level and was allowed an opportunity to escalate before fire crews could be
dispatched. "It was a very hot fire and we had a delayed dispatch because
the occupants decided to fight the fire themselves," he said.
Witness reports indicated
that an explosion occurred after the two occupants had left the building.
Schwab noted that the heat of
the blaze broke several windows on the west side of the building and allowed a
prevailing wind to fuel the flames.
Several windows in an
apartment building on the north side of the structure were also destroyed by the
heat, Schwab said.
The Ketchum-Sun Valley
Firefighters Association— through its Displaced Persons Fund—has dispensed
funds to the two victims for temporary housing and emergency purchases, Schwab
The fund is supported by the
association’s annual fund-raising ball.
Patricia Frye, local station
manager for SkyWest Airlines, Matney’s employer, said the company has embarked
on an effort to raise assistance funds for Matney. A special fund for Matney can
be donated to at any branch of Wells Fargo Bank, she said.
"He lost everything he
owns and he has no insurance," she said.
Stallard, who has owned the
building at 271 Second Ave. North for approximately 30 years, said she plans to
replace the structure. "I would definitely plan to rebuild," she said.