Update--2:30 pm EST Friday
The State Fire Marshal has determined that the fire actually began in a room at the northeast corner of the building. The room is primarily used to store trash.
The exact cause of the fire has not been determined.
The Big Powderhorn Mountain Resort employs around 140 people, and resort General Manager Bruce Noren stated that nobody will be losing their job as a result of the fire.
One thing that Noren noted was that all guests of the lodge were checking out Thursday, so inconvenience was at a minimum for those guests.
Noren is expecting 80 percent capacity this weekend, which will be roughly 2,000 guests.
After the investigation is concluded, Big Powderhorn Mountain Resort is planning on tearing down the rest of the building in hopes to rebuild. _______________________________
Update--10 am EST Friday
Smoldering ashes, charred beams, and broken windows are basically all that remains of the main lodge at the Big Powderhorn Mountain Resort Friday.Google Maps
Firefighters from Ironwood, Bessemer, Oma, Kimball, Saxon/Gurney, Wakefield, and Hurley responded to the blaze, which began near the east end of the building at around 11:20 a.m. central time on Thursday. Firefighters from Montreal and Mercer remained on standby.
Firefighters from Hurley and Ironwood fought the fire from two ladder trucks. Often the men on the ladders would disappear from view behind the huge curtain of black smoke billowing from the lodge. On the ground, fellow firefighters used hoses to send as much water as possible into the inferno.
Water dams were replenished all day long by tanker trucks sent to the Township Fire Station where they refilled with more water.
Within a few hours, the flames were contained, but not before two-thirds of the building was destroyed, and what remained was damaged by smoke and water.
"We TMre in mop up operations now, said Wakefield Fire Chief Mike Yon. There are a lot of wet spots. And because of the multitude of the additions and hotel rooms and everything, there's a lot to clean up. It's a big mess."
Firefighters used the mid-afternoon let-up to regroup. With a number of hot spots threatening to rekindle, they stayed on the scene through the night.
The break also gave resort staff an opportunity to remove rental equipment from the only corner of the lodge that didn't catch fire.
"Obviously, we'll be dealing with effects of the fire, but Powderhorn plans on being open everyday for the rest of the season, and we plan on enjoying a great season of skiing," said General Manager Bruce Noren.
Everyone inside the building at the time of the fire made it out safely and has been provided with other arrangements if necessary. An employee of the resort, Jacob Breitenfeldt, was able to get video of the scene and explained to us just how it felt to see the place engulfed in flames.Jacob Breitenfeldt - YouTube "I saw flames on the kitchen side of the building and people running around trying to get to their cars as quick as they could," recounts Breitenfeldt. "Hoping the fire would not get out of control, I sat and watched the outcome with my father."
Still, no one knows exactly how the fire started or why it spread so quickly.
Lou Bonagura of Ironwoodinfo was on the scene shortly after the fire started, and had a chance to talk to some witnesses of the fire.Ironwoodinfo - YouTube "Someone who was inside the building at the time said they heard a popping noise, then a swishing noise, and that's when they got the hell out," said Bonagura. "Firefighters tried to save the main part of the lodge, but they couldn't do it. It's lost."
There had been reports of explosions. However, Gogebic County Sheriff Pete Matonich told us that he knew of no explosions. There was a van on the south side of lodge that had been destroyed by the fire and perhaps the gas from the airbags may have exploded.
"The fire marshal has been called and he'll be here in the morning (Friday), Yon said. The fire chiefs are lined up now."
Despite the devastation, the resort plans to resume business as usual Friday morning. They say this is a big skiing weekend for them and they're still hoping skiers and snowboarders will show up.
The fire did not affect the ski slopes or the lifts.
Lou Bonagura of Ironwoodinfo.com contributed to this article
Update - 6:12 p.m. EST
The Big Powderhorn Mountain Resort will still be open for business beginning Friday, according to On the Snow.
Fire crews will remain on site throughout the night to put out remaining hot spots and ensure the fire is completely extinguished.
A Fire Marshall will be at Big Powderhorn lodge Friday to begin the investigation of the fire.
Update - 5:25 p.m. EST
All units are still on scene at the Big Powderhorn Mountain Resort lodge, according to the Gogebic County Sheriff's Department.
It is reported that a car that was parked at the rear of the building was lost, along with the damage done to the structure.
Several witnesses reported hearing an explosion in the south end of the building, which is believed to have caused the blaze.
Update - 4:10 p.m. EST
TV6's Ashley Palumbo is on the scene.
She reports that she can still see some flames in different sections of the building. Her estimation is that at least half of the lodge is gone.
She sees at least 13 fire trucks on the scene, with dozens of firefighters, some of them pumping water on the flames.Access to the lodge is limited to emergency personnel and media.
She's heard no reports of injuries.
As for lodging at other facilities in the area and the ski hill itself, she's checking. She'll have a full report on the Early News and on TV6 News Tonight.
Update - 3:50 p.m. EST
This account just came in from Jacob Breitenfeldt:
"I live about one mile north of the ski resort and on my way towards the town
of Ironwood, I pass the hill everyday. I saw flames on the kitchen side of
the building and people running around trying to get to their cars as quick
as they could. Hoping that the fire would not get out of control, I sat and
watched the outcome with my father. It's a shame that it set on fire. All
the ski resorts we have is really a big activity for our area. We get a lot
of people that travel just to ski and snowboard our ski resorts. I spend a
lot of my time snowboarding Big Powderhorn mountain in the winter which
makes me disappointed to see this happen."
Update - 3:06 p.m. EST
Here's the latest video, sent in by Jacob Breitenfeldt, who works at Big Powderhorn Mountain Resort.Jacob Breitenfeldt - Youtube
Update - 2:20 p.m. EST
Lou Bonagura of Ironwoodinfo was at the scene of the fire shortly after it started.
He tells uppermichiganssource.com, "When we arrived, the south end of the building was in flames and that part of the building was already half burned down. That's where the kitchen is.
They don't know what caused the fire yet, but evidently it started in the kitchen."Ironwoodinfo - Youtube
"Someone who was inside the building at the time said they heard a popping noise, then a swishing noise, and that's when they got the hell out. Firefighters tried to save the main part of the lodge, but they couldn't do it. It's lost"
The Big Powderhorn Mountain Resort main lodge caught fire at around 11:20 a.m. Central Time this morning.
There are currently no injuries, but as of early afternoon, the lodge was still burning with flames coming out of the roof, according to witnesses.The fire started within one of the kitchens connected to the main lodge, according to Jacob Breitenfeldt who works at the lodge.
We will have images of the scene and more information as they become available. If you have pictures or video of the scene, email them to our Interactive Content Manager.
Fire departments from Ironwood, Bessemer, the Township of Ironwood, and Hurley are on the scene.