golden-poles

The Golden Poles Chalet is located right next to the entrance to Skibowl East. Photo by Robin Cressy

The Golden Poles Chalet erupted into flames Monday afternoon and continued burning for days in the largest fire in recent memory in Government Camp.

37 firefighting units were dispatched to the Mt. Hood condominium building from as far away as Portland following the 9-1-1 call at around 2:40 pm Monday, April 20. Web cam footage shows the fire starting at 2 pm. The Hoodland Fire District has a building in Government Camp with 24-hour staffing, but leaders of the 50-person, 4-engine district quickly recognized they would need assistance.

"It's been burning from the inside out for hours," said Government Camp resident Tracy Livingston at the scene Monday at 5 pm. "It's a tough building. It just doesn't want to give up."

(Four days later, it still hasn't given up, and it is still burning. The roof fell off on Day 4 of the fire, Thursday, April 23).

No injuries or fatalities have been reported as of Tuesday noon, and the cause of the fire is not yet known. A 21-year-old woman with a broken femur, Ericka Lafever, was rescued from the building by friends before firefighters arrived.

The firefighting effort has been complicated by lack of water. The 30-unit Golden Poles Chalet used its own well for water, and was not a part of the communal water system administered by Government Camp Water Co. The unincorporated Mount Hood community of Government Camp in remote Clackamas County has no public water system. The building also lacked a sprinkler system, according to news reports.

Located right near the entrance to Skibowl East with ski-in, ski-out benefits on good snow years and covered parking, the three-story Golden Poles building was a mix of full-time residents and renters at the time of the blaze. Two-bedroom condos in the building rent for about $100-$200 per night depending on the season, and many Mount Hood skiers and snowboarders have spent time there over the years.

Jack Walker, Alpine Director of the Oregon Ski Racing Association, owns a condo in the building and spends weekends there with his family. “Crazy watching a building you own 1/30 of burn on TV," Walker said by e-mail. “Don’t really know when they will let us in to see what we can salvage.”

This slide show from Robin Cressy tells the story so far:

The Golden Poles Chalet on fire. Photo by Robin Cressy

This story will be updated as more information about the fire becomes available.

At 6:30 pm Monday Tracy Livingston texted from the scene of the fire, "Still burning. Lots of tears going on."

At 7:14 pm KGW reported that one of the Golden Poles residents told police that there were 30 pounds of gunpowder in one of the units before the fire began.

At 7:45 pm OregonLive reported that firefighters expect it to take several days to extinguish the fire completely.

Firefighters were still on the scene trying to extinguish the fire Tuesday morning.

At 8 am Tuesday KGW reported that Government Camp residents are being told to boil their water before drinking it, due to the fire's impact on Govy water resources.

The cause of the fire remains a mystery. Exactly how the fire started is just one of several large questions still unanswered.

As of noon Tuesday, the building was still smoldering (photo courtesy of Tracy Livingston).

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