The Clearwater Lodge near Delta Junction burned to the ground this morning. The rustic lodge was a popular gathering place for fishermen, birders and others who come to the Clearwater River.
The fire was reported around 3 a.m. and all that was left at about 10:00 this morning was a pile of smoldering rubble.
There were no injuries. But Clearwater Lodge co-owner Patsy Ewing was clearly exhausted after a nearly sleepless night.
“It’s overwhelming,” she said.
Ewing was fielding questions from the local fire chief while entering phone numbers and other data into her cell phone, which was constantly buzzing in her pocket with texts and Facebook posts from friends and well-wishers.
“I’m still spinning but it’s … People contacting me has been amazing,” Ewing said. “I’ve felt a lot of care and concern. My phone is blowing up with people saying, y’know, ‘Are you OK? We’re so sorry.’ It’s just amazing.”
The lodge was a total loss. Rural Deltana Fire Chief Tim Castleberry estimated damages totaling about a million dollars. He’s just begun investigating, so he can’t say what sparked the fire.
“We’re not sure,” Castleberry said. “It looks like it started in the basement, but once things cool down, we’ll be able to get (in) and look a little bit more.”
But it’s not just a dollar-and-cents loss. An important piece of Delta-area history also went up in smoke this morning.
The lodge was built back in the late 1950s by Al Remington, who along with a half-dozen others settled in the Clearwater area around then and developed it. Patsy and her husband Kevin bought it in 2001 from Remington’s grandson.
The lodge was known far and wide over the years as a headquarters for local snowmachine races. It’s even more widely known by folks from all over who come here for a meal and a cold one after a day fishing on the Clearwater.