Remodel job gets out of hand, condominium burns |

Remodel job gets out of hand, condominium burns

Gregory Crofton, Tahoe Daily Tribune

Chunks of cedar burning in a fireplace ignited a chimney and then the roof of a triplex at 295 Tramway Drive on Tuesday.

A contractor working at the hillside residence reported the blaze at 3:12 p.m. Two units adjoining the structure were not occupied.

“I noticed smoke and called 911,” said the contractor, who lives at Carson Valley but refused to identify himself. “I tore out the staircase and was burning up the old stairs. This wood was burning hot. It’s 23 years old so it burned real fast.”

He was remodeling the unit for a South Shore man. Fire officials estimated damage to the attic, chimney and roof to be $45,000.

“It’s humiliating,” the contractor said, “something you don’t want to be associated with. I sat out here and watched more and more smoke appear. It was very frightening.”

Tahoe-Douglas Fire Protection District called four engines, including a ladder truck, to extinguish the blaze. Firefighters attacked it from inside the building and battled it from the air with a water cannon atop an extended ladder. Two spot fires that developed on the roof and deck of a triplex next to the one that caught fire were also knocked down.

James Coffelt, a Colorado man vacationing at Tahoe, stood back and watched the firefighters work.

“I was just looking out the window getting ready to go to the grocery store when I saw the fire trucks,” he said. “It was completely (engulfed) up there.”

South Lake Tahoe, Incline and East Fork fire departments also responded to the fire, said Tahoe-Douglas Assistant Chief Bruce Van Cleemput. Douglas County sheriff’s deputies blocked off Tramway at Quaking Aspen Lane until about 4:30 p.m.

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