MOUNT CHALRESTON (KTNV) — The historic Mount Charleston Lodge burned to the ground Friday morning, and with so many trees around, it was a fire that could have been a lot worse.
The Ellis Island company says it plans to rebuild the lost lodge—and recapture the memories.
But a large fire surrounded by wildlands is a recipe for disaster. It took the help of about eight agencies to make sure a worst-case scenario did not happen.
“Over my neighbor’s house there was huge flames,” said Janet Masanz, who lives in Mount Charleston. “It was a little bit terrifying. All of the neighbors came out and then we kind of all gathered, walked down here, and saw that the lodge was on fire.”
The Mount Charleston Lodge was her first job when she was 15, and her brother’s first before her. It was a rite of passage for all of the mountain kids.
“It’s sad. This is where the entire community gathers,” said Masanz. “All of our fundraisers, holiday parties—everything was here. This is where we met with each other. So, we lost an extremely special place to the mountain.”
The fire produced so much heat and so many embers, that there was a huge exposure for the national forest around it.
“We’re such a dry forest right now,” she said. “That’s been our biggest fear is that if a fire caught, what’s going to happen.”
All of the cabins were occupied at the time and with trees right on the property, preventing it from spiraling into a wildfire crisis was both a miracle and a testament to the Mount Charleston Fire Protection District.
“There are so many facets. I couldn’t even in the next hour tell you everything that was done right that had an impact on that fire not getting off that property,” said Larry Haydu, the assistant fire chief of the Clark County Fire Department.
But beating back a fire hinges on how you start the fight.
“It starts with the initial attack,” said Haydu. “The initial attack was one engine with two guys on it from Mt. Charleston Fire Protection. And they were able to lay a supply line in and begin putting water on that fire before anybody else from Las Vegas Valley every got there.”
And going forward, there is hope.
“That we have another beautiful restaurant where we can all gather and celebrate that this is where we can go now for our fundraisers,” said Masanz. “And yeah, have the whole community back together. The restaurant back together, the jobs back, everything.”
Though there is no official timeline, the assistant fire chief says it will likely take about a couple of weeks to clear out the debris and another two to three years to rebuild the lodge.