Monday, August 8, 2016

Alpine Commons Fire Update

Alpine Commons June 4th
Alpine Commons today

While an exact cause for the devastating fire that ripped through an 8-unit apartment complex at Alpine Commons on Saturday afternoon June 4th has not yet been determined, AFD Chief Tim Nelson said they have narrowed down the ignition point to the upstairs apartment on the west end.

Which explains why the fire quickly entered the attic, where it had an unobstructed route all the way to the eastern side of the building.

Both Chief Nelson and Building Commissioner Rob Morra agree the building is still salvageable but two months later nothing has been done besides erecting a protective fencing around the burned out hulk.

If the owners simply demolish it and start over or if the renovation exceeds 50% of the floor area -- and Mr. Morra suspects it will -- then sprinklers will be required by current building codes.

And considering the staffing levels at beleaguered AFD, sprinklers can be a lifesaver.

 The Fisher Hospice House fire 7/22, without sprinklers, could have been a disaster 


Anonymous said...

It is an ugly building...start over!

Dr. Ed said...

Pity the town can't compromise -- put sprinklers & heat detectors in ALL the attics and call it done.

The attics are where all the problems have been -- here, rolling green, north village, granby heights, etc. A unit fire, e.g. recent one in Boulders, is serious but containable, unless it goes up into the attic, it really only endangers the unit. Likewise, while all fires are dangerous, it's the attic-involved fires that truly threaten FF lives.

The very thing that makes these attics so dangerous -- the unobstructed open span - is what makes it easy [and thus cheaper] to run pipe for sprinklers and tubing for conduit. It's a "straight run", and labor is where your costs always are.

And water flows downhill, even in Amherst.

Hence while full sprinklers would be ideal, an attic sprinkler tripped by fire breaking through would not only stop the spread, but send water cascading down into the fire below.

This involves "common sense" on all sides, hence won't happen.

Rebecca Casa said...

Maybe a candle, cigarette or laptop with bum battery. Too bad but I hope they do fix or replace it because it is an eye sore as is .

Dr. Ed said...

The other thing is that land is far more valuable today than 40 years ago, and that is a very large footprint for just 4 units. Likewise, the 4-person bylaw limits the market for large units, and the party crackdown limits the market for "party" apartments.

Where students once wanted to live here, the market is now on-campus or not in Amherst. So why should Aspen Square put money into restoring this when the market for this product is softening, and there are more valuable uses for the land.

Anonymous said...

Alpine commons has no problem renting these units. There is still a housing shortage in Amherst and with the amount of money at apartments can be rented for in Amherst, I'm pretty sure they will rebuild and even rent those new units for more money than before . Just as rolling green did.