Smoky cooking fire empties Elms

Greg Masse
Post Independent Staff

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – A three-story historic building located at the corner of 10th Street and Bennett Avenue was evacuated at 9:30 a.m. Friday after residents saw smoke emanating from one of the structure’s windows. But Glenwood Springs fire chief Mike Piper said the smoke came from a cooking pan fire, causing little, if any, damage.

“She had oil in the pan, and it just kind of caught fire,” Piper said of an unidentified resident. “She opened her window to let the smoke out.”

Once the woman turned off the stove, the fire went out, he said.

Piper said other residents must have seen the smoke, prompting them to call 911.

“We had to evacuate everyone, just as a safety precaution,” Glenwood Springs police officer Steve Burkey said as he worked traffic control on Bennett Avenue.

Firefighters opened a nearby fire hydrant and had a fully pressurized hose at the ready, but it turned out to be unnecessary.

“All we heard was smoke alarms going off,” building resident Erin Wray said. “I could smell it, but I couldn’t see it.”

Friday’s false alarm reminded some at the scene of a more serious fire that happened on Dec. 1, 2001, when a 52-year-old man suffered burn and smoke inhalation injuries and several others suffered minor injuries.

During that fire, third-floor residents became trapped in their apartments and heavy smoke prevented tenants from using the stairs, forcing one man to escape onto the building’s roof.

The building, now an apartment complex known as The Elms, is located at 512 10th St.

According to a historic building survey conducted by the Frontier Historical Museum, it was constructed in 1906 by Dr. W.F. Berry, who studied medicine under the famed Mayo Brothers of Rochester, Minn.

It included a fully equipped hospital and nursing school.

In 1913, the Glenwood Springs Sanitarium came under the management of Dr. Olney Place, a physician from Denver. By the early 1930s, it was called Glenwood Hospital. In 1936, the building was sold to J. E. Sayre, of Glenwood Springs, who converted it into apartments.

Contact Greg Masse: 945-8515, ext. 511

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