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Lodge untouched despite summer forest fire scare
By CARY ORDWAY
Hotel operators are trained to expect the unexpected, but one has to wonder if anyone ever anticipated the problem facing Sun Mountain Lodge in July 2014: Maintain a world-class resort during one of the peak travel months of the year, but do it with one slight handicap: do it without any electrical power.
In more densely populated areas there normally would be backup power to rely on, but no such luck for Sun Mountain Lodge. The massive wildfires affecting Central Washington’s Okanogan County had cut off power for everyone in the Methow Valley and even the area’s backup power supply was affected. A resort full of people – not to mention thousands of local residents – were about to experience a serious dent in their summer plans.
The culprit in this instance was the Carlton Complex Fire, blackening about a quarter of a million acres from the town of Pateros northward and including many separate fires in the Winthrop area as well as one only five miles from Sun Mountain Resort. Guests were evacuated and the resort was without power for a week. New guests didn’t return until well into August, effectively taking nearly a month of bookings off the calendar during the busiest season of the year.
Now, several weeks later, the resort has returned to normal – in fact, you might say surprisingly normal. While the Carlton Complex Fire was the biggest in the stateís history, firefighters were successful in keeping it away from many places like Sun Mountain Lodge that appeared to be in serious jeopardy. Drive up to the lodge today and there is no evidence in the immediate vicinity that there ever was a fire. The views from the mountaintop setting of the resort remain intact, a 360-degree panorama that brings to mind Hitlerís Eagles Nest high in the Alps. The mountains here aren’t as high, but the views seem just as dramatic and, thankfully, no fire damage is visible.