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
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
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
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
“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
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
“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
“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.