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Front Page » October 8, 2002 » Local News » Fire devastates lodge
Published 5,248 days ago

Fire devastates lodge

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After the second fire in six months, adjustor says lodge is 'limping along'

Fire fighters work to extinguish the blaze which severely damaged the Book Cliff Lodge in Green River on Saturday.

The Book Cliff Lodge and Restaurant in Green River was heavily damaged by fire on Saturday. Emery County Detective Jeff Thomas said, "On Saturday afternoon at 4:43 p.m., deputies responded to a citizen dispute at the BookCliff Lodge. There was a verbal altercation in one of the rooms and it was settled at the scene. The male who was a truck driver left the scene in his truck and the female stayed behind and was supposed to leave later by bus. The deputies left the scene a little after 5 p.m. Deputy Kay Jensen for the Emery County Sheriff's Office was one of those responding.

"At 6:02 p.m. a call came in for a structure fire at the BookCliff Lodge. Fire crews responded to the scene and the fire was in the rooms next to the restaurant. The fire was in the vicinity to where the couple had been staying. We needed to locate them and talk to them. The male was located in Wellington and Sergeant Tom Harrison went over and took his statement. Some eyewitnesses said they had seen the female on foot since the fire. She is wanted for questioning. There were no injuries in the fire, but major property damage occurred. The restaurant was a total loss and burned to the ground. There were 17 motel rooms destroyed.

"The cause is still under investigation. The state fire marshal's office responded and assisted in collecting evidence. They are treating it as a suspicious fire and we are waiting to hear from them as to the cause. They collected evidence in the room where the fire started. It was the room where the couple was staying, where the fire apparently started and spread east and west from there.

"The couple checked into the room at approximately 2 p.m. on Saturday afternoon. The female had apparently been traveling with the male for a short time. The male was very cooperative and had a load to deliver in the Salt Lake area on Sunday.

"We have put out a nationwide attempt to locate on the female. She is described as being a white female, 32 years of age. She is approximately 5'3" and 180 pounds. She has blue eyes and dishwater blonde, shoulder length hair. She wears glasses and was last seen wearing a red shirt and red shorts. We are in the process of obtaining photos of her from another agency at this time.

Fire fighters respond to the scene as flames rip through the lodge.

"The Emery County Sheriff's Office and the Grand County Sheriff's Office as well as the Utah Highway Patrol responded to both calls to the motel and restaurant. They will continue to watch for the female suspect and have sent out dispatches to other agencies. Motels and bus stations as well as truck stops were checked on Saturday night and the female has not yet been apprehended as of Monday morning.

"A vehicle was stolen from a Green River residence on Saturday evening and was not reported stolen until Sunday morning. The news channels reported that the female suspect had taken the vehicle, but that was not true. The vehicle was taken by two juveniles from Colorado and was located in Pleasant Grove.

"This was a big fire and units responded from Huntington and Emery. Main Street was blocked off for several hours. Also helping with the fire suppression was the Penhall Company. They are currently working on the Green River bridge rehabilitation and they brought their track-hoe and loader in and knocked a hole between the fire and where it hadn't reached yet. This kept the fire from spreading and kept it contained. The damage could have been worse if they hadn't of come to help.

"The building has been released to the owners for clean-up, but the investigation is ongoing. Michael Dunwoody and Gerald Cordingley have been managing the properties and they planned to meet with insurance agents on Monday to survey the damages," said Detective Thomas.

Dunwoody said, "We are disappointed with our loss and what it means to the community. A lot of people will be unemployed and it will hurt the community. We are right across the street from the Shady Acres which has a sandwich shop and other restaurants that the people who stayed here supported. We plan on rebuilding and remaining a part of the community."

Dunwoody said they had a fire six months ago and still haven't received any compensation from their insurance on that fire. He said the adjustor from the insurance company hadn't been out to look at the fire after a month had gone by so they hired a private adjustor, Nathaniel Cook who is also assisting with the fire from Saturday. Cook said, "We are preparing an estimate of damages. We estimate between $1-2 million for the structural damages and there are extra expenses like personal belongings and loss of income which will all be added on. They are interested in keeping the business and rebuilding and there is no reason why they wouldn't be able to do this. The office area was not consumed by the fire, but suffered extensive smoke damage as well as damaging the roof. They are still renting rooms however. There are 74 rooms left standing with 10 of those which are smoke damaged and will have to be repaired or rebuilt.

"They are making plans for a temporary office to be brought in, from which they will conduct business; for right now we're just limping along," said Cook.

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