Photo is courtesy of Lawrence Township Fire Department, http://lt5fd.com/.
GIRARD TOWNSHIP – A hunting lodge has been deemed a total loss following an early morning fire Sunday.
Crews from LeContes Mills, Goshen, Karthaus, Morris Township, Bigler/Jackson/Woodland, Glen Richey, Hyde, Lawrence Township, Chester Hill, Winburne and Columbia Volunteer Fire Companies were called to the Fork Ridge Ranch at around 2:35 a.m. Sunday for a fire at the hunting camp located at 4757 Gillingham Rd., in Girard Township. Several additional units from Centre County were also dispatched to assist with stand-by assignments.
An undisclosed number of individuals were inside the three-story, log cabin when the fire broke out, but all were able to exit the camp safely, according to sources at the scene.
The cause of the fire is under investigation by the Pennsylvania State Police Fire Marshal. According to sources at the scene, the fire appeared to have started in the basement area of the lodge.
While the initial response by fire departments was quick, crews were soon hindered by winter conditions in their efforts to get to the property, located in a remote area of the township. The roads were icy and snow-covered, which made it very difficult for fire apparatus to get into position to fight the fire, fire officials said.
According to sources at the scene, the fire departments had to access the property via a gated, private road, which was quite steep, snow-covered and icy. Fire departments had to rely on tankers and engine-tankers to get water up to the fire, but the heavy vehicles had difficulty getting up the road, fire officials said.
According to sources at the scene, plow trucks and heavy equipment from both Goshen and Girard townships were utilized to clear the snow and apply anti-skid materials to aid the fire departments.
The fire quickly spread to the rest of the cabin, said fire officials who noted that crews fought the flames for several hours in the cold temperatures before finally extinguishing the fire.
The camp, owned by Derek Walker and managed by Tim Gallaher, was a total loss. Sources at the scene said the property was insured.