Fire razes SE lodge living area

Locals, visitors credited for quick action that saves other buildings

Posted: Tuesday, July 19, 2005

KETCHIKAN - A fast-moving fire destroyed the living quarters of a lodge near Ketchikan, but quick action by community members and visitors was being credited for preventing damage to other buildings.

"It was a terrible thing to happen," said Catherine Peavey, a 44-year resident of the Meyers Chuck Lodge. "But if it was to happen, it was pretty awesome how people dealt with it."

No one was injured in the fire, which occurred Sunday afternoon in the tiny community located on a tip of Cleveland Peninsula about 36 miles northwest of Ketchikan.

The lodge is owned by Cliff and Joyce Gardner, and has been there for at least 25 years, Peavey said.

There was no official information Sunday about the cause of the fire. The Alaska State Troopers have notified the Alaska State Fire Marshals Office in Juneau about the incident, said trooper Bryan Barlow.

Smoke was seen coming off the roof of the main lodge building at 1:35 p.m., according to Jerry Dunn, the captain of the California-based yacht Kelly Lee that was at Meyers Chuck on Sunday.

"We then heard five long air horn blasts and someone yelled, fire, and pointed towards the lodge," Dunn wrote in an e-mail to the Ketchikan Daily News. "Within minutes the roof and the tall fir trees behind the lodge were completely on fire."

Several locals started to fight the fire with garden hoses while others got two pumps in place with hoses to move water from the bay. Several structures are near the lodge building, and people worked "frantically" to remove propane and gasoline from one of the adjacent buildings.

Peavey said about 25 people, including two kayakers visiting from Scotland, helped fight the fire and move things out of harms way.

Using water from the pumps, the makeshift fire crew was able to contain the blaze to the main lodge building, nearby trees, and an empty plastic water tank.

A generator shed about 10 feet away from the main lodge building did not burn.

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