November 18, 2014


Outer Beaches Avon office extensively damaged by fire

By IRENE NOLAN




The Outer Beaches Realty main office on Highway 12 in Avon was extensively damaged today by an early morning, three-alarm fire.

Kenny Brite, assistant chief of the Avon Volunteer Fire Department, said that the first call on the blaze came in at 12:12 a.m. According to Dare County fire marshal, Steve Kovacs, a passerby called 911 to report the fire, which began on the back -- or north side -- of the building.

Fire departments from Avon, Buxton, Hatteras, and Frisco responded, along with the Hatteras Island Rescue Squad, Dare County Emergency Medical Services, the Sheriff's Office, Cape Hatteras Electric Cooperative, Dare County Water Department, and the county fire marshal.

Brite estimated that a total of about 40 firefighters were involved in battling the blaze.  At the height of the fire, flames were shooting through the roof and lighting up the night sky in the village.

He said the firefighters were hampered by breezy conditions and the passage of a cold front shortly after midnight when the wind shifted from the southwest to the northwest.

There were no injuries reported, and the blaze was brought under control, but not extinguished, at 3:15 a.m.

Even this morning, fire departments were still on the scene, extinguishing hotspots, as parts of the building continued to collapse. A ladder truck was at the scene again tonight.

Kovacs said the cause of the fire is undetermined and is under investigation by his office and by the Sheriff's Office.

Most of the damage was in the center part of the large building that, in addition to the realty company, also contains two apartments and three other offices. The apartments and offices, on the west side of the building, sustained mostly water damage, Kovacs said, and the east side of the building, where the realty office is located, sustained smoke and water damage.

"Everybody is doing fine," Outer Beaches vice-president Kelly Wilson said early this afternoon, adding that they were all grateful that the fire did not happen during business hours.

"We are making arrangements to get up and running," she added.

The company owns two other offices -- in Waves and Hatteras -- and Alex Risser, Outer Beaches president , owns a large house across the street from the office. Wilson said the house will be set up for use as a temporary Avon location.

She said that the company's computer servers and central phone system were located in the building, and that the company is working with service providers to deal with those issues and problems.

The coming weekend will be busy for local property management companies with many guests and owners checking in for Thanksgiving week.

"There will be no problem for incoming guests or property owners," Wilson said. She added that Risser will probably issue a statement for guests and owners on the company's website, www.outerbeaches.com, later today.

This evening on its website, Outer Beaches asked guests scheduled to check in at Avon to check in at the Waves office instead.

"Everyone in the community has reached out to help us, including all of the other property management (companies)," said Wilson.  And, she said, the firefighters did a great job battling the blaze.

Employees of Oceana's Bistro came in during the early morning hours to serve coffee and biscuits to exhausted firefighters and company employees.


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