Lodge was key fill-up spot for Dempster travellers
The Klondike River Lodge, located at the Dempster Corner on the Klondike Highway, has burned to the ground.
Photo by Dan Davidson
CHARRED REMAINS – This photo, taken from the Klondike Highway, shows the full extent of the fire damage at the Klondike River Lodge.
DAWSON CITY – The Klondike River Lodge, located at the Dempster Corner on the Klondike Highway, has burned to the ground.
Dawson Fire Chief Jim Regimbal said his department received a call from members of the territorial highways maintenance branch shortly after 8 a.m. Sunday.
While in transit to the lodge, located 40 kilometres from Dawson, Regimbal said, he raised the Klondike Valley Fire Department, which had half the distance to travel, and arrived before Dawson’s crew.
By the time both departments reached the scene, the main building was beyond saving.
“It was down to the ground when we got there,” Regimbal said.
Indeed, by Sunday afternoon, there was nothing left of the main structure, other than the tin roofing sitting on top of the rubble, with faint smoke still rising.
It had contained the convenience store, restaurant and motel complex.
The tire shed and garage to the south of the compound was not damaged, nor were the various outbuildings on the property, including the staff housing trailers, both single- and double-wide structures.
The above-ground fuel tanks, which had been drained and were on the far side of the tire shed, were not touched.
The lodge had closed for the winter in September, as it has for the last several years.
The lodge has been in operation since the early 1970s.
Filling up at its station before beginning a trip on the Dempster Highway was advised on most travel websites, as the next gas station is at Eagle Plains, 360 kilometres up the road.
The scene attracted visitors from town and the surrounding area during the day, and the compound remained closed off to anyone not involved in the investigation.
“We’ve turned it over to the RCMP,” Regimbal said, “and we’ll have to wait on their investigation to determine the origin and cause.”
Regimbal said the lodge, which has been through a number of owners during its history, is currently owned by Brian MacCarthy of Inuvik.
He is currently on holidays, but has been contacted.