Condo residents return to salvage possessions after fire (video)

Mar 20 2012 - 9:31pm

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(Scott Schwebke/Standard-Examiner) The Northpoint Condominiums bear evidence of fire damage in Roy on Tuesday.
(Scott Schwebke/Standard-Examiner) The Northpoint Condominiums bear evidence of fire damage in Roy on Tuesday.
(Scott Schwebke/Standard-Examiner) The Northpoint Condominiums bear evidence of fire damage in Roy on Tuesday.
(Scott Schwebke/Standard-Examiner) The Northpoint Condominiums bear evidence of fire damage in Roy on Tuesday.
(Scott Schwebke/Standard-Examiner) The Northpoint Condominiums bear evidence of fire damage in Roy on Tuesday.
(Scott Schwebke/Standard-Examiner) The Northpoint Condominiums bear evidence of fire damage in Roy on Tuesday.

Watch interviews with the Roy fire chief and residents here.

ROY -- The smell of smoke hung heavy in the air as shell-shocked residents at Northpoint Condominiums returned home Tuesday to collect whatever they could salvage a day after a devastating fire.

The fire, reported Monday around 4:15 p.m., began in Unit No. 50 and spread to the 11 other units in the building at 4642 S. 1900 West, sending residents scurrying for safety. Thirty residents have been displaced, and most are staying with family and friends, authorities said.

Whitney Berchtold was asleep in Unit No. 44 in the Northpoint Condominiums building when she was awakened by the smell of smoke.

"It took me a little while to understand what was going on," she said Tuesday at the fire scene. "I heard a loud noise, and I figured the wind had knocked over our grill. I opened up the balcony door and there were flames and smoke everywhere. I ran in and grabbed my phone and ran out of the house."

Berchtold said the danger finally sank in once she was safely out of the building.

"Standing there, I was kind of in shock," said Berchtold, who escaped the inferno in her pajamas. "I didn't really understand what was going on. It wasn't registering to me."

Berchtold and her husband, J.D. Berchtold, who was at work when the fire broke out, returned to their condo Tuesday in hopes that some of their belongings had been saved.

Berchtold said the condo was heavily damaged, but at least framed mementos from her childhood were still hanging unscathed on a wall.

Shawn Wheelwright, who lives in Unit No. 41, said all of his furniture and electronics were destroyed, but work tools were saved.

"The smell of smoke is really bad, everything is soaked and the drywall is falling off the ceiling," he said. "Overall, everything is in upheaval."

The blaze was apparently started accidentally by a resident who left a lit cigarette on a rear deck outside of Unit No. 50 on the building's third floor, Roy Fire Chief Jon Ritchie said.

The resident was away from the condo while the cigarette smoldered for about two hours before starting the fire.

The fire caused at least $750,000 in damages to the building, Ritchie said. Damage estimates to contents of the 12 units were not available.

The building is insured and will likely be rebuilt, said Ross Mertlich, secretary-treasurer of the Northpoint Condominium Association.

Flames broke through the building's roof and pushed thick smoke into the air that could be seen for miles Monday afternoon.

Upon arrival, firefighters ensured that residents had evacuated the building, Ritchie said.

"After that ... we went into a defensive mode, putting lots of water on it," he said. "After we had it knocked down well enough, we went inside to an offensive (mode)."

The fire was attacked with two ladder trucks, one placed behind a fence at the rear of the building and another in the front on 1900 West.

A total of 27 firefighters responded in five engines and three ladder trucks. The Roy Fire Department was assisted by the Riverdale, Ogden and South Ogden fire departments and Weber Fire District. Fire personnel remained at the scene until early Tuesday morning, mopping up hot spots.

Northpoint Condominiums is in front of Herfordshire Condominiums. The two condo developments are separate and have different owners. The Standard-Examiner misidentified the burning building in a story Tuesday.

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