White Pine Ski Resort lodge lost in fire

Firefighters spend entire day knocking down flames.

Brides scramble to find new wedding venues

After setting up Thursday

for a weekend wedding, Robyn Blackburn

did one last walk around to check her business

in the lodge at White Pine Ski Resort.

Only hours later she was contacted that

the lodge was engulfed by flames.

“I was there all day, walked around and

locked up. There was nothing,” Robyn

Blackburn said.

Sublette County Unified Fire was notified

at 1:20 a.m. Friday of what was reported

as a wildland fire, according to Mike

Petty, public information officer

“When we came over the hill the lodge

was fully engulfed,” said Sublette County

Unified Fire Chief Shad Cooper.

Not a wildfire at all, the main lodge at

White Pine Ski Resort was a raging inferno

threatening to ignite nearby trees in the

Bridger-Teton National Forest and other

structures including cabins, a shop and storage

facility.

More than 30 members of the department

worked through the night along with

crews from the Bridger-Teton National Forest

to contain the fire to just the one building.

No injuries were reported.

“We’ll be here all day,” Cooper said Friday,

as crews continued to douse hot spots

and smoke billowed into the air.

The State Fire Marshal was onsite, as

well, waiting until the structure was safe

enough to inspect for a potential cause. “He

was already here for the fire last night; we

just held him over,” Cooper said.

The fire was the second night in a row

for the county’s volunteers to pull an allnighter,

after responding Wednesday night

to a house fire that injured one person and

killed another.

Cooper said he tried to release as many

of the firefighters as possible Friday morning

to enable the volunteers with regular

jobs to return to work.

Robyn Blackburn said the fire was devastating.

Her day Friday was spent notifying

the eight brides with weddings at the

lodge in upcoming weeks.

The business bustles in winter months as

families gather for ski lessons and winter

activities. More recently the business has

become a summer destination for weddings

complete with food preparation and onsite

lodging in tents and cabins.

For Makayla Reed, who had the facility

booked for July 20, the news about

the lodge left her processing her options.

Thankful that she had eight days to work

through the changes, she was empathetic

for the bride who had the facility booked

for July 13 with only one-day notice. In

fact, the facility was already set up for her

big day.

“We’re talking to other venues; Robyn

has been amazing,” Reed said. In the end,

Reed will still have her wedding at White

Pine, just not in the lodge.

One of the draws to White Pine was the

all-inclusive venue. “We didn’t need to

decorate – it’s beautiful. Guests could stay

on site at lodging in the tent village; food

and alcohol were available,” Reed said.

“For more than a year we’ve been planning

Fire Continued from page 1

the details.”

Taking the changes in stride, Reed used

social media to reach out to the many wedding

guests – most coming from other locations

in the state.

“We have a week to work out the kinks,”

Reed said. “We’ll have stories to tell our

kids.”

“At least one still wants to get married

here and we’re looking at rental canopies,”

Robyn Blackburn said. She has also been in

contact with several other venues.

The bride with a July 13 wedding was

married at a family home with the reception

at the Hampton Inn.

“The loss was devastating for those

brides who have planned for their special

day,” Robyn Blackburn said.

She said the most damage was near the

side where the kitchen was located. However,

the boiler room was located beneath

that area. No cause has been identified.

Alan Blackburn wrote in an email over

the weekend, “First 24 hours was the worst,

but today I think it’s the mosquitoes going

to torture us!”

“Having the pond next to the lodge

helped and the fire captain reckoned they

had pumped over 200,000 gallons of water

onto the fire,” he said.

“The lodge is a total loss and our insurers

will be getting with the State Fire Marshal

next week for demolition and excavation

to try and discover how and where the fire

started,” he wrote.

Meanwhile, the focus is how to move

forward.

“White Pine has too important of a place

in the community not to rebuild,” Robyn

Blackburn said. “Unfortunately nearly

every contractor in the area is busy building

from last year’s fire,” Robyn Blackburn

said, referring to the Roosevelt Fire in Hoback

Ranches that burned more than 65,000

acres and 55 homes.

A GoFundMe Page is set up to help

brides with added expenses and the Blackburns,

who are determined to rebuild.

“We will put up a temporary structure

and be open for the ski season,” Robyn

Blackburn said. “All of the posts on Facebook

are about the memories. We have a

duty as caregivers to rebuild.”

She thanked the many agencies that responded

to the fire. The U.S. Forest Service

has manned a blockade on the road to

White Pine from Skyline Drive since the

start of the fire.

“It’s turned into a tourist destination with

many lookee-loos,” Robyn Blackburn said.

Advertisement


Video News
More In Home Page