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Warm Springs Lodge Gutted by Fire
Thursday, April 19, 2018


A few dozen firefighters settled in for the long haul Thursday morning as they continued to pour gallons of water on Sun Valley’s Warm Springs Lodge.

“We’re going to be at this a long time—it’s under a cold roof and we can’t get at it,” said Ketchum Fire Chief Mike Elle as he supervised the activity from his truck. “We have the fire marshal and ATF coming up to figure out what caused it.”

The alarm sounded at 11:20, according to Sun Valley’s Kelli Lusk, bringing firefighters from Ketchum, Sun Valley, Hailey and Wood River fire departments. That’s about the time Eye on Sun Valley’s Michael David, a Ketchum City Councilman, noticed flames shooting from the east side of the building and called 911.

Thursday morning fire fighters poised atop cranes poured water from above the lodge while others seated on the Warm Springs patio aimed water at the west, or dining room, side of the lodge.

A few onlookers with dogs in arms wandered by and gasped, their mouths open wide as they looked at the devastation.

“It was so smoky last night,” said Nanci Warren, who lives next door to the lodge.

The chimney had buckled on the east side of the building where the shingles had been completely burned away. And the logs of the wall below were completely black.

Water cascaded down the roof on the south side of the building facing Bald Mountain’s ski runs. Seven of the windows in the large picture window had blown out, while an A-frame roof top above looked as if the west side had been completely ripped off.

Fire continued to shoot out of a chimney near the west entrance. Only a couple ends seemed to hold up the hood, the rest having been torn leaving a gaping black hole through which smoke poured out.

Water poured off the roof onto the patio, which was littered with burnt embers, flooding the yard of the nearby Cimino home.

Only the side of the building facing Picabo Street looked relatively intact, even as a three-foot wide swath of water streamed down the street. A rack inside the ski shop held several pair of skis, but it looked as if a lot of the inventory had been removed.

A hazy smoke wafted through Ketchum, and smoke could be smelled as far south as East Fork Road.

A firefighter sent up his department’s new thermal drone, taking pictures above the lodge.

“Where the white is is where it’s hot,” he said. “Right now we’re putting water anywhere. But this will help us when it calms down a little because it’ll be able to take tell us where the hot spots remain.”

A few onlookers stood around, trying to second guess the cause of the fire. There was a trash can on the east side of the building that had completely melted—maybe it started there, one said.

Another thought it might have started in the kitchen—perhaps workers were cleaning it after Sunday’s end-of-the-ski season party.

Ski School Instructor Jerry Mitchell related how a friend of his reported having heard an explosion—maybe it was a gas leak, he said.

“Of course, that’s just a rumor,” he said. “Only the fire marshal will be able to tell us for sure.”

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