Fire damages ritzy Deer Valley units |

Fire damages ritzy Deer Valley units

by Jay Hamburger OF THE RECORD STAFF

A blaze at the Stein Eriksen Lodge forced four people to flee their rooms at the glitzy Deer Valley property early Sunday, and the lodge evacuated about another 30 people whose rooms were close to the fire.

The fire, dramatic by recent Park City standards, occurred as the lodge, one of the best known in the ski industry, prepares for the start of Deer Valley’s busy ski season at the beginning of December.

Lodge management reports nobody was injured. Sixteen rooms were evacuated, and the people staying in them were moved to other rooms, says Russ Olsen, the lodge’s vice president.

"Nobody likes to be involved in an accident or a fire," Olsen says. "They expressed thanks in the way we handled it."

Richard Carlile, a City Hall building inspector who is investigating, says smoke detectors sounded at about 1:30 a.m. Two units were damaged, #203 and #103, with #203 sitting above the lower unit. Carlile says they both suffered water and smoke damage.

The upper unit suffered structural damage to the walls near a fireplace. Damage to two fireplaces, stone masonry and beams was reported in the lower unit. The fire also charred wood on the building’s roof. Carlile estimates damage at between $500,000 and $1 million, but Olsen says the hotel has not determined how much repairs will cost. Carlile estimates repairs will take a few months.

After a preliminary investigation, Carlile says the fire started in a fireplace chase, the space inside the fireplace’s frame. He says something inside the chase overheated and caught fire, but he is unsure what ignited the blaze. Carlile says the people staying in the lower unit had a fire in a bedroom fireplace that night.

The Park City Fire District reports the fire started in the lower unit and climbed to the second floor. The fire district sent 21 firefighters to the lodge, battling the blaze from inside the units and from the roof. A fire district statement says the firefighters spent 45 minutes putting out the fire and another four hours extinguishing hotspots.

"One of the major concerns of a fire is smoke inhalation and carbon monoxide. If they hadn’t been awakened, that would be a factor," says Tricia Hurd, a fire district spokesperson who responded to the lodge.

Flames were visible from outside the lodge when the firefighters arrived, Hurd says.

According to Carlile, an alarm rang at the lodge’s front desk. Stein Eriksen workers investigated and called 911.

"They couldn’t tell where the smoke was coming from but said it’s time to call someone," he says.

Sprinklers went off in one of the units but not in the same room as the fire, Carlile says, explaining the heat from the fire set them off.

Olsen says the people who were evacuated were provided other rooms and will receive complimentary accommodations during a future stay.

The lodge is famous as one of the ritziest in ski country, frequently garnering top reviews and winning lodging awards. The 175-room lodge is named for the Olympic skiing champion and Deer Valley icon. It sits on the ski runs just above Silver Lake Lodge.

On its World Wide Web site, the lodge boasts of being "a sanctuary to some of the world’s most discriminating leisure and business travelers because of our personalized, impeccable, almost unimaginable service."

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