Gold Run fires since 2006

Jan. 22, 2006: A fire started on the deck of one of the units of the building at 2990 Shadow Creek Drive when someone discarded ashes from a hookah into a wooden flower pot on the unit's deck. The fire damaged 36 units.

Oct. 26, 2007: Two buildings in the complex — one at 2800 and the other at 2802 Sundown Lane — caught fire when someone tried to put out a cigar in a planting box. Again, 36 units were damaged.

Oct. 20, 2010: One unit was destroyed and a cat was killed when a resident left a cardboard box on top of the stove inside the building at 2805 Sundown Lane.

March 23: Two units were destroyed when a fire began on the deck of one of the units at 2885 Springdale Lane. The fire was caused when residents discarded smoking materials in a wooden planter on their deck.

The fire that destroyed two units at Boulder's Gold Run condominiums last month was sparked by residents discarding smoking materials into a planter on their wooden deck — the third time that's happened at the complex since 2006.

Two condos in a building in the 2800 block of Springdale Lane were destroyed in the early morning fire on March 23, and 18 to 25 people were evacuated as a precaution. One firefighter also was treated for a minor injury.

Boulder Fire Marshal Dave Lowrey said Thursday that the Gold Run blaze was caused when residents smoking outside on a third-level patio discarded their smoking materials into a wooden planter.

Lowrey ruled the fire an accident.

The Gold Run complex — which is built almost entirely of wood — has seen three other large fires since 2006, and two of them were started in similar fashion.

In 2006, 36 units were damaged by a fire that started when a resident discarded ashes from a hookah into a wooden flower pot on a porch. The following year, 36 units also were damaged when a resident put out a cigar in a porch planter.

"It's unfortunate that this happened again, but it is what happened," Lowrey said.

Boulder will not cite anyone for starting the fire.

"They were not doing anything illegal," Lowrey said. "It's their condominium, so it's between them and the landlord whether they can smoke there. There are no city ordinances against it."

Gold Run on-site manager Mike Marty said that while he had not spoken to Lowrey yet about the cause of the fire, the homeowners association would be looking into fire risks at the complex.

"There's going to be discussions, that almost goes without saying," Marty said. "The HOA board is going to take a look at anything and everything we can do to prevent any type of fire."

But some residents said Thursday they think it is as simple as neighbors being more responsible with their smoking habits.

"I think people just need to be smart," said Sam Park, who was one of the residents evacuated the night of the fire. "You should be able to smoke without starting a fire."

Fellow resident James Cook grabbed a cigarette in the parking lot in front of his condo, where he said he now goes to smoke to avoid lighting up on the wooden patio.

"When I moved in, my roommates yelled at me, so I don't do that anymore," Cook said. "That mulch (in the planters) is more flammable than people think."

Like the other evacuees, Cook was woken up by a loud pounding on his door as firefighters told him to get out of his condo.

"I got out and I just see orange, it was like nothing I had ever seen before," Cook said. "It was wild."

John Seaman lived in the building that caught fire, but said he was on spring break at the time. Seaman — who has lived in the Gold Run complex for two years — said he never really thought about the fire risk at the complex until the blaze, but even now believes the complex is safe.

"It was sort of like lightning striking twice," Seaman said of the repeated fires at Gold Run. "People should just have common sense."

Contact Camera Staff Writer Mitchell Byars at 303-473-1329, byarsm@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/mitchellbyars.