Motherlode Lodge Fire : Historic Lodge left to burn in Hatcher Pass, considered suspicious

Motherlode Lodge Fire : Historic Lodge left to burn in Hatcher Pass, considered suspicious

The Motherlode lodge in Hatcher Pass was left to burn after catching fire Friday evening.

Two forestry engines responded, but only to make sure no surrounding areas burned, said Norm McDonald, fire management officer for the Alaska Division of Forestry in Palmer. There’s still enough snow in the area that fire spreading to nearby grass or trees wasn’t an issue, McDonald said.

McDonald would not comment on the cause of the fire, but said it was being investigated. Palmer Fire Chief John McNutt could not be reached for comment Friday night.

Forestry crews were concentrating on traffic control Friday night as they watched flames consume the beloved local institution, home to events like weekly jazz nights and weddings.

“There’s a lot of memories in that place,” McDonald said.

Skier Corky Still was on his way down from the mountains in Hatcher Pass at about 6 p.m. Friday when he saw what appeared to be smoke drifting out of an area where he knew the Motherlode Lodge was. The smoke got denser and blacker as he headed down the road.

“Oh, that’s a structure fire,” he thought. “Oh, that’s where the Motherlode is.”

As he rounded a steep turn he saw the lodge burning, with black smoke billowing out of the attic and flames shooting out of a lower-level window.

The 14-room lodge, which had been boarded up, once included a bar, a large dining room, a sauna, its own well and sewage treatment plant. Originally built as the Little Susitna Roadhouse in 1942, the lodge sat 3 miles below Independence Mine State Historical Park.