Nemacolin Woodlands Fire

February 14, 2012 by staff 

Nemacolin Woodlands Fire, Serguei Velidtchenko, of Markleysburg, Fayette County, walks Monday around a sundial that he built near the fire-leveled ski lodge at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort. Fire that broke out Sunday evening at the lodge continued smouldering Monday. The building was vacant and no one was hurt in the blaze. Officials at the resort say they have made alternate plans for the upcoming Presidents Day weekend and the slopes will be open as usual.
Michael and Jennifer Kitchen and their daughter, Emma, had settled in for the evening in their hotel room at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort on Sunday night when they heard fire sirens.

Looking out a window, at first they saw nothing amiss. But within minutes, a tower of flames lit the night sky a short distance away. The resort’s Sundial Ski Lodge was ablaze.

The flames were “almost as high as the water tower” next to the ski lodge, said Mr. Kitchen, of New Philadelphia, Ohio, who had arrived with his wife and 8-year-old daughter earlier in the day. Video taken by Ms. Kitchen with her phone showed the flags outside their hotel stretched out by a whipping wind that fueled the inferno.

The lodge was gutted, but officials at the Fayette County resort said they will be prepared to host Presidents Day weekend skiers using alternative accommodations. “It’s going to be business as usual,” said general manager Chris Plummer. “It’s our busiest weekend of the year.”

The resort typically offers skiing Fridays through Sundays during the season.

The 15,000-square-foot lodge, a wooden structure opened in 1996, housed a restaurant and bar, ski rental shop and offices. The resort’s rental equipment for winter and summer sports was stored there and is gone.

Nemacolin Woodlands arranged on Monday to borrow rental equipment, including 250 pairs of skis and several snowboards, from Seven Springs Resort for the next two weekends, for which Mr. Plummer was grateful.

The fire did not damage the chair lift, tow line or electrical and snowmaking equipment that services the slopes, resort spokesman Jeff Nobers said.

Food and beverage operations will be moved to the Caddyshack restaurant, a short distance from the ski area. Heated tents will be set up for equipment rental and to provide warm respites for skiers, Mr. Plummer said. “No guest is going to be affected by this whatsoever.”

The fire was reported shortly after 8 p.m. Ben Orendorff, the resort’s assistant director for recreation, had stepped inside the ski patrol office in the lodge to warm up after checking snowmaking equipment. He heard the beeping of a smoke detector, and two crew members came inside and said they smelled smoke, Mr. Orendorff said.

After notifying the resort’s security force, the workers grabbed portable extinguishers and went to investigate. They determined that a fireplace on the second floor was not the source of the smoke, but they could see it seeping from the ceiling, walls and floors. They hurried outside, where Mr. Orendorff could see an orange glow between the slats of an exterior wall.

Fire crews had been summoned and arrived within minutes but by then the building was engulfed. The lodge had a sprinkler system but it was no match for the intensity of the fire, Mr. Plummer said.

Firefighters from 14 companies in four counties responded to the fire.

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