A major structural fire Saturday night at the Limelight Condominiums in Ketchum destroyed 26 units in the two-story building, the City of Ketchum reported Sunday.
The fire started around 6:30 p.m. in the upper “A” building of the condominium complex at 2107 Warm Springs Road, between Central Ketchum and the Warm Springs base of Bald Mountain. Firefighters searched for people inside the building before attacking the blaze, the city said in a news release.
There were no human casualties, the city reported, although a man – an apparent bystander – was transported from the scene to St. Luke’s Wood River Medical Center during suppression efforts, according to traffic. of Blaine County emergency communications monitored by the Express. Some pets were reportedly lost in the fire.
The Ketchum Fire Department received the call at 6:36 p.m. and firefighters arrived on the scene within four minutes, the city said. Sun Valley, Wood River and Hailey Fire Departments also responded to the call.
The fast-moving fire first engulfed the eastern half of the building, witnesses said. Shortly after, flames burst through windows and over the treeline, sending black smoke up the sides of Bald Mountain. Crews battled the fire and worked to keep it from spreading to other buildings for several hours, finally containing it around 4 a.m., the city said. Firefighters continued to work to extinguish hot spots on Sunday morning.
“I am grateful to all of the crews who responded valley-wide,” Ketchum Fire Chief Bill McLaughlin said. “This kind of collaboration is essential when fighting a fire of this magnitude.”
The cause of the fire is under investigation, the city said. City officials said the fire was suspected to have been caused by a grill propane tank, but that has not been confirmed. A State Fire Inspector will attend the scene to investigate and make a final decision.
The city is working to connect people who have lost their homes with housing offered by community members, city officials said. Short and long-term housing is provided by the city’s housing specialist, Carissa Connelly.
Representatives from the American Red Cross in Idaho Falls arrived Sunday to set up a service station at the Ketchum Fire Station at 107 Saddle Road, adjacent to the YMCA. The aid organization is providing packages of essential items, immediate financial assistance and help with refilling prescriptions, glasses and other lost necessities.
“Our thoughts are with those who have lost their homes and some who may have lost their pets,” said Mayor Neil Bradshaw. “This community is coming together once again, and I thank them for the support we’ve received so far, whether it’s providing temporary shelter, clothing or financial assistance.
People who can help with housing, donations of clothing and essential items, or who wish to make a financial contribution can use these contacts:
- For short or long-term housing, contact Ketchum Housing Strategist Carissa Connelly at email@example.com or 718-200-6055.
- Donations of clothing and essentials can be made at Gold Mine Thrift Store, 331 Walnut Ave. N. in Ketchum, or 208-726-3465.
- Financial donations can be made to the Blaine County Charitable Fund at www.blainecf.org.
Displaced residents share their gratitude and fears
On Monday afternoon, Ketchum Fire Department vehicles and resident cars were parked bumper-to-bumper outside the building on Warm Springs Road. Residents shared hugs and held hands as they stared at the rubble, awaiting news of their affairs. A pungent smell of smoke rose from the ruins, distinct from the smoke from the wildfires in the area. On the west side of the building, charred rafters, beams and wall studs remained; on the east side, the open sky shone through where the roof had been. A firefighter in full turnout gear approached the group on the gravel exit.
“Let’s get off the road,” he said.
“Oh, that’s fine. Get me out of my misery,” one resident snapped.
A resident of the building – who asked not to be named for privacy reasons – said he hoped some of his items were still salvageable.
“They told me based on what they got out of it yesterday that everything except my books and my clothes could have survived,” he told the Express. “But I know my bedding is gone, so I just ordered a bunch of stuff an hour ago from LL Bean. At least I got the 10% Labor Day discount.
The man, who had lived in his Limelight condo since 2014, added that his credit card was still in the building, but he was happy to find he could order pillows from his existing online account.
“I’ve never had to deal with all of this before,” he said. “The main insurance company, the tenants’ insurance company, the salvage company.”
He stopped to offer comforting words to a retired couple next to him who, as residents of the upper east side of the building, said they feared what their home had become.
“I’m on the [west] side, so I’m a little bit luckier — in fact, a lot luckier — than those people,” he said. “The ground floor didn’t burn too much, but everything is diluted and smoky.”
The man said he was in his second-floor apartment on Saturday night when he noticed smoke outside his window. He immediately grabbed his dog – “the very first thing when I jumped” – and tied him outside, away from the fire, before heading back inside to grab some valuables.
“Then the room started to fill with smoke and I knew I couldn’t go back. [a second time],” he said.
In the meantime, he said he was staying in a guest apartment in the middle of the valley, above the garage, owned by his boss and was not “too worried” about the short-term housing. He added that he was “very grateful” for the efforts of firefighters and neighbors who reached out to help.
“I was talking to a young woman at Sun Chateau [on Sunday]. She asked me: ‘Do you need accommodation?’ — I started crying,” he said. “It still gets to me now.”
The couple standing next to him, who also asked that their names not be printed for privacy reasons, agreed.
“Everyone has been very caring and kind,” they said.
The couple told the Express that they have accumulated “lots of memories” in their Limelight condo over the past 35 years.
“We lost everything,” the woman said. “All our memorable things, photos. All my medicine, my purse, my ID and everything is there. Well, I guess. Now we’re going to Boise.
A firefighter approached the couple with folded hands.
“I’m sorry. I couldn’t even get to your unit,” she said. “There’s nothing left.”
A casualty; 2 missing cats
With most of the North Valley fire resources assigned to the blaze, Wood River Fire & Rescue took on all medical calls in the Valley shortly before 8 p.m. Saturday. Meanwhile, deputies from the Blaine County Sheriff’s Office worked to clear pedestrians from the bike path and direct passers-by from Bald Mountain Road. According to scanner traffic monitored by the Mountain Express, a man in his 60s standing outside the building suffered an eye injury from broken glass and was transported by ambulance to St. Luke’s Wood River in Ketchum. It was not immediately clear whether he was a resident or a passerby. The man was reportedly “combative” with police, according to Blaine County Emergency Communications.
On Tuesday morning, two cats that lived in the building were reported missing on Mountain Humane’s lost and found forum: an orange tabby named “Mr. Moo” and a mostly white tabby named “Lily.” Firefighters were able to extract a third cat, “Ivy”, from the building on Tuesday. The cat, which was reunited with its owner on Tuesday, had survived by hiding under the bed, the town of Ketchum said.
Property damage estimated at $10 million
The Limelight’s upper building is a mix of 26 one- and two-bedroom condos built in 1972, according to Blaine County property records.
Two units were listed on the AirBnb rental market as of September 4. According to Blaine County assessor Jim Williams, the development had a total estimated value of approximately $14.23 million between its two buildings at the time of the fire.
The building that burned down — Building A — had an estimated value of $9.72 million among its 26 units, Williams noted, with one-bedroom units having a market value of around $310,820 and two-bedroom units from $427,890. ￼