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Mystic Mountain Lodge at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort Destroyed by Fire;
Worst Blaze Firefighter Has Seen in 22-Years

By Liz Zemba, Tribune-Review, Greensburg, Pa.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News

Feb. 13, 2012--Fire destroyed the Mystic Mountain ski lodge at the Nemacolin Woodlands Resort on Sunday night, as 13 fire departments from four counties were unable to subdue the flames before the building was lost.

Fayette County 911 dispatchers said nine fire stations from Fayette, two from Somerset, one from Westmoreland and one from Preston County, W. Va., responded to the flames at the resort near Farmington, which began shortly after 8 p.m. The building collapsed, and nothing was left but flames, smoke and debris by 10 p.m.

Farmington Volunteer Fire Department Chief Brian VanSickle said the fire was the worst he's seen in 22 years, and that firefighters were facing a losing battle when they arrived on the scene.

"We were whipped when we pulled in. There smoke was coming out of every orifice (of the lodge). We couldn't see anything," VanSickle said.

Guests' and neighbors' accounts on social media showed the lodge engulfed in flames and skies glowing as far away as Normalville, about 30 miles away.

Vansickle said when the fire broke through the roof of the building, it grew so large that some of the firetrucks and equipment were damaged. Some hoses caught fire, and a windshield of one of the firetrucks was blown out.

Firefighters had trouble with the hydrants on scene because of the 9-degree temperature, VanSickle said, noting one hydrant at the scene was frozen and another could not provide enough water to battle the flames. The building's sprinkler system could not contain the fire, he said. Tanker trucks of water were deployed to the scene.

VanSickle said there were two employees inside the building, but that they escaped without injury. At least one firefighter was taken to Uniontown Hospital for treatment of smoke inhalation, he said.

Resort spokesman Jeff Nobers said the lodge had been closed at the time of the fire, and that the resort had just wrapped up its annual WinterFest Weekend at the lodge.

Established as Willard F. Rockwell's private game reserve in 1968, the property evolved into a five-star luxury resort complete with Mystic Rock golf course and Woodlands Spa after 84 Lumber founder Joseph Hardy III purchased the land in 1987. The 25-acre Mystic Mountain ski area opened in 1995.

The two-story lodge, which was built in 1999, had contained a rental area for ski equipment, a cafeteria dining area, the Hungry Moose restaurant and a deck overlooking the ski area.

A state police fire marshal will be on the scene Monday morning to investigate.

Matthew Santoni contributed to this report.


(c)2012 Tribune-Review (Greensburg, Pa.)

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