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Ask Matt ... what caused fire at Laurel Park inn

A fire on Christmas Day destroyed a building at the Echo Mountain Inn that had been used as the inn’s office and day spa. A fire on Christmas Day destroyed a building at the Echo Mountain Inn that had been used as the inn’s office and day spa.

Q. Did they ever find the cause of the Christmas Day fire at the Echo Mountain Inn at 4849 Laurel Park Highway?


At 2:21 a.m. on Dec. 25, fire awoke occupants of the Echo Mountain Inn. The fire consumed an outbuilding that housed the inn’s business office and health spa. “Valley Hill Fire Department was here in less than 15 minutes,” said Bud Bonnema, a retired police officer from Minnesota who bought the property with his wife, Jan, in July of 2019. “They were great. Another two minutes and we could have easily lost more buildings.” The two-story 3,000-square-foot building, which stood less than 50 feet from the main inn, has been deemed a total loss. The fire marshal’s report did not determine a cause but did suggest that it could have been an electrical fire or it may have originated from a space heater. Built in 1896 as a summer home for John H. and Jessie B. Patterson of Jacksonville, Florida, the main building has been operated as an inn since the 1920s by numerous subsequent owners.


Q. Last year your paper ran a story about project RAVE, the cell phone “panic button” system available to teachers and staff. Following the recent shooting at Hendersonville Middle School, was the panic button system used?

Yes. According to county officials, on the morning of Nov. 24, the first 911 call regarding the shooting was made by a school system employee. Telecommunicators at the Henderson County 911 center did however use RAVE to send out an alert to all school employees and administrators.

Q. We all remember that 2019 was a record-setting year for rainfall. Did we get more or less rain this past year?

More. According to the Regional Climate Center, precipitation at the Asheville Airport was 57.25 inches in 2019 and 64.71 inches in 2020. That amounts to a 13 percent increase. The average rainfall for Asheville is 44 inches.

Q. What is going on at the site of the proposed asphalt plant on Spartanburg Highway near the U.S. 25 Connector off-ramp? We thought the asphalt plant project was dead.

Last month a grading permit was issued to property owner Jeffrey Shipman Enterprises Inc. to construct a gravel pad. The pad will consume much of the south end of the 12-acre site which was recently proposed for a high-tech asphalt plant. Following a surge of public outcry and denial of a conditional use permit by the planning board, Shipman withdrew his application prior to a final vote by the Henderson County Commissioners. At this time, no zoning permit has been issued for anything to be built on the gravel pad.