Update: White Pine Resort Fire Still Under Investigation, Owners Look to the Future

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After burning down last week, the White Pine Ski Resort fire is still under investigation. However, the owners will keep the resort open for skiing and have plans to rebuild the structure.

PINEDALE — Despite the fire which engulfed the lodge at White Pine Resort last week, the business is still operating with the main phone line now forwarded to a cell and being answered 24/7.

In the last few days both Great Spirit lift, which serves the top of the mountain, and Little Spirit have been tested and appear to be fully operational. Doppelmayr, who lead the annual extensive lift maintenance service, will be on site next week to check and test all electrical circuits. 

CEO, Alan Blackburn and GM Katie Lane agree that the lifts at White Pine will operate this winter.

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“Skiers will purchase day passes from a temporary dwelling. Season Passes continue to be available online and are at their lowest rate until the end of the month” says Lane.

The message at the top of the White Pine website posted the day after the fire advises, “the fire may have destroyed our lodge but not the ski lifts. We will be open for skiing this winter!”

Plans are in place to meet with USFS next week as the Resort operates on a permit issued by the Forest Service. Sean McGuiness, Mountain Resorts Coordinator BTNF and Pinedale’s District Ranger Rob Hoelscher will assist with deciding on the best option for a temporary dwelling, where it might be sited as well as ensuring construction and wiring conform with code. 

“We are planning on providing our loyal supporters with a great level of service and support” says Blackburn. “Rossignol have been in touch asking how they might help replace the thousands of dollars of skis and snowboards that were lost in the fire.”

At this stage it appears that the fire was contained to the lodge, built in 1998-99 and whilst the cause and origin are still under investigation, initial predictions are that the fire may have been the result of a lightning strike. Spectators at the Pinedale rodeo last Thursday evening report seeing lighting and a storm passing through the mountains in the area. White Pine has faced lightning strikes previously with hits on the lift towers, fuse boxes and other buried electrical lines. 

Horses in the corrals at White Pine were not injured in the fire but have been moved to alternative pasture. The White Pine summer horse riding program continues to operate with trail rides, gear drops and pack trips available. There is still time to sign up for the Basic Trail Riding Skills camp next week. The three day course focuses on basic day riding, loading and unloading, how to read a trail map as well as trail safety. There is another horse camp scheduled for August.

Cabins and the Tent Village/RV areas all escaped fire damage and are all available for rental. 

Perhaps most emotionally affected are the brides who had planned to celebrate their wedding day at White Pine this summer.

“Calling a bride the day before her wedding was just awful” said White Pine’s wedding co-ordinator Robyn Blackburn. “Local people are so resourceful and within hours of the fire, the wedding planned for the day following the fire had been rescheduled. There is a wedding planned at White Pine for this weekend thanks to Josh Criddle and Black Mountain Rentals who will be providing complimentary tents and tables. Other brides have chosen to stay with White Pine and rather than a lodge we will be erecting a large, festive tent rented from a local company with dance floor and decorative lighting. The party will go on.”

The White Pine team would like to thank all the local fire fighting crews who ensured that the damage was contained to one structure. Local businesses and town folk have contacted White Pine extending offers to help and assist wherever possible.

“We hadn’t realized just how important White Pine is in our community — so many have contacted us, saddened by the loss and shared memories of growing up learning to ski at White Pine. We have all been deeply affected,” said Blackburn.

Looking to the future, the lodge will be rebuilt.

“It is impossible to predict the timeline as the insurance adjusters have only just visited the site. There is a long road ahead but there is a new lodge at the end of the tunnel,” said Blackburn.