A ski-trip story: fire forces 32 out of a Deer Valley lodge | ParkRecord.com

A ski-trip story: fire forces 32 out of a Deer Valley lodge

by Jay Hamburger OF THE RECORD STAFF

It was about 5:30 a.m. on Monday morning when Susan Towler and the others staying at the Goldener Hirsch Inn heard the fire alarm blaring through the exclusive Deer Valley lodge.

Towler, who is from Jacksonville, Fla., and is in Park City with her husband and 7-year-old daughter, said later that morning she saw the carpet outside their room becoming drenched from fire sprinklers.

A firefighter soon appeared in the hallway, telling her to put on warm clothes because they might have to evacuate the building.

"I actually wasn’t concerned. There wasn’t a strong smell of fire. There was no smoke," Towler said, leaving the Goldener Hirsch midmorning after the lodge was evacuated following a fire.

Nobody was reported injured, and a damage estimate was not immediately available.

Kelley Davidson, the general manager of the inn, said the firefighters evacuated 32 people from the Goldener Hirsch, and arrangements were made for them to stay at the nearby Chateaux. The Goldener Hirsch shut down on Monday, and Davidson said on Tuesday the inn plans to reopen later in the week. He did not indicate what day it would reopen.

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"We’re going to survive this. We’re going to be ready to open as soon as possible," he said on Monday.

He praised the work of the firefighters, saying their performance was "exceptional."

"Quick response. Quick assessment of it. They were spot right on . . . They did above their job," he said.

Room 402 was damaged, and investigators say it appears a fireplace flue overheated. Richard vonWeller, a City Hall building inspector who is investigating, said the fire spread to a hallway and the roof before it was extinguished. He said the inn suffered extensive damage from water elsewhere in the building.

The Building Department’s investigation is continuing, but Ron Ivie, who is City Hall’s fire marshal, was not working early in the week. Ivie typically finalizes fire investigations. vonWeller speculates a fire in a fireplace might have caused the overheating.

Davidson said three people were staying in room 402, a grand suite, and they did not realize there was a fire until the alarm sounded.

"Our guests are very important to us. We want to make sure they’re all safe, which they were," he said.

Firefighters moved in and out of the inn on Monday morning, and people staying there exited a few at a time as they walked to the Chateaux. They appeared in good spirits as they moved their luggage to the other lodge.

Bob Wheaton, Deer Valley Resort’s president and general manager, spoke to the displaced guests at the Chateaux, telling them they would be treated well, he said. Wheaton said he wanted to ensure the "guest experience is as positive as it can be."

"It’s one of those phone calls that makes your heart sink," Wheaton said, recalling when he was told of the fire.

Davidson is pleased with Deer Valley’s response, and he noted Wheaton’s remarks to the guests.

Mary Shipley, who is from Cincinnati and was staying at the Goldener Hirsch, said she was sleeping when the alarm sounded. She smelled smoke as she evacuated the inn.

"We just got up, got dressed. They directed us," she said, adding, "It was very controlled, very well run."