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Ketchum Fire Destroys Twenty-six Condo Units
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Bruce Smith captured this photograph of the fire as the moon began rising over Baldy.
   
Monday, September 5, 2022
 

STORY AND PHOTOS BY BRUCE SMITH AND KAREN BOSSICK

Marc Boatwright was at home in Unit 210 of the Limelight Condos on Warm Springs Road when he saw smoke outside the window Saturday night. He grabbed his terrier, his iPads, his cameras and many of the photographs he had shot around the world and fled.

Moments later flames torching 15 and 20 feet high raced across the roof.

The Ketchum Fire Department received the call at 7:38 p.m. and its firefighters were on the scene within four minutes. They began searching for people inside the building before attacking the fire. There were no human casualties but at least one cat was reported to have died in the fire.

 
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By Sunday the top floor of the Limelight Condominiums was charred rubble.
 

Firefighters from Sun Valley, Wood River and Hailey fire departments responded moments later and continued to fight the throughout the night before they contained it at 4 a.m.

The City of Ketchum’s Housing Strategist Carissa Connelly began working Sunday to connect the two dozen people who had lost their privately owned units with short- and long-term housing offered by members of the community.

Representatives from Idaho Falls American Red Cross were enroute to Ketchum Sunday afternoon where they planned to set up shop in the community room at the Ketchum Fire Station on Saddle Road next to the Wood River YMCA. They will provide packages of essential items, such as toothpaste, offer immediate financial assistance and assist in refilling lost prescriptions, eyewear and other necessities.

The fire, which started about 7:30 p.m. Saturday, will be investigated by a state fire marshal inspector. But neighbors and residents said they believed that a propane tank on a backyard barbecue might have blown up.

 
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Firefighters were able to keep the fire from spreading to other homes in the area.
 

“I had headphones on and I didn’t hear the fire alarm,” Boatwright said.

Frankie Holt had spent the day selling Fierce Hazel ethical and eco conscious bags at Rebecca’s Private Idaho bike event and was headed back to the Airbnb she had rented in the Limelight Condominiums when she saw the smoke out Warm Springs.

She stopped to get a burrito, then saw flames as she was turned away near the condominiums.

“I lost my Ridley bike, all my gear, all my clothes and technology. Fortunately, I had a friend with a couch because when I went looking for a hotel room, nothing was available.”

 
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Water streamed ovr the back side of the building as firefighters continued to address the smoldering remains in the front of the building Sunday afternoon.
 

The two-story building was built by Jack Corrock in the early 1970s. They were acclaimed for being one of the most affordable properties in the Warm Springs area, and they included a swimming pool.

Those who lived there loved the location as it looked out onto Bald Mountain where they could watch deer coming down the mountain.

On Sunday afternoon firefighters remained on the scene shooting gallons of water into the second floor, which was still smoldering. Water cascaded over the room onto the other side of the building. More water fell like rain in the parking garage beneath the condominiums where at least five cars remained.

Boatwright had lived in the condos for eight years. Fortunately, he said, he had a wonderful boss who had put him up at property in Deer Creek.

 
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Charred rubble lay at the bottom of the building.
 

“But I didn’t take my car keys, my cellphone or my wallet. So now my car is still sitting there and I can’t drive it.”

As he watched firefighters continue to pour water on the smoking structure, a firefighter walked over to him with a jar of honey and salmon treats for his dog that he had found in the unit.

“I’m going to go buy shoes and socks since I can’t get into my car,” Boatwright said a few minutes later. “I have some checks, but I have no ID so either they trust me or they don’t.”

Boatwright fought back tears as he mentioned how much he would miss his book collection. He said all he could do was try to keep a Taoist attitude.

“One of the firemen told me the art work I got in Nepal was still on the wall, not damaged by the fire. But they’re pouring an awful lot of water on the building,” he said. “I can’t do anything about it. All night when I couldn’t sleep, I was thinking about the people in Ukraine and what they’re going through. For me it’s just a matter now of putting my life back together.”

Rebecca Rusch told those attending Rebecca’s Private Idaho Sunday evening that many of the firefighters and EMTs who had fought the fire all night drove up Trail Creek Summit at 5 the next  morning to set up aid stations for the 1,500 riders who took part in the gravel ride.

She said her Be Good Foundation would donate part of the funds it had raised this past week to those who had been displaced, and she invited the riders to donate, as well.

“If you see a firefighter, give them a hug,” she added, noting that her own husband Greg Martin was one of those who had fought the fire.

Ketchum Fire Chief Bill McLaughlin praised the collaboration of the crews that responded: “This type of collaboration is critical when fighting a fire of this magnitude.”

“Our hearts go out to 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 have received so far, whether it be from providing temporary shelter, clothing or financial assistance.”

WANT TO HELP?

To provide short or long-term accommodations, contact City of Ketchum Housing Strategist Carissa Connelly at cconnelly@ketchumidaho.org or 718-200-6055.

Take clothing and essential item donations to The Gold Mine Thrift Store at 331 Walnut Ave. N. in Ketchum. Call 208-726-3465 for more information.

Make financial donations to the Blaine County Charitable Fund at https://www.blainecf.org/.

Vacasa, an international vacation rental management company, is also trying to help with accommodations. For more information, call 208-720-6566.

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