Whitecap resort back in business day after lodge burns


January 21, 2019

P.J. Glisson/Daily Globe

A SMOKY FOG hangs over the Whitecap Mountains Lodge Saturday as it continues to smolder after a Friday fire devastated the building. The entry door provides a view to the outdoors exposed on the opposite side of the building. Nevertheless, the ski resort was open for business, operating strictly from its hotel on higher ground.



UPSON, Wis. - Despite a Friday fire that destroyed its main lodge, the Whitecap Mountains Resort was open for business on Saturday.

"The lifts were operational as of 8:30 a.m. this morning," said Summer White Eagle, who handles marketing for the resort.

Shortly past noon on Saturday, she said, "hundreds of people" already had visited the resort that day, which is operating from its nearby hotel and continuing to host recreational groups as planned.

Although the resort had lost power temporarily as a result of the fire, White Eagle said it was restored by Saturday morning. She added water also was available after a switch in wells.

She said people were welcome to ski, snowboard, ice fish and snowmobile, as usual.

The spokeswoman also made clear that all of the resort's 75 employees are still working.

According to White Eagle, the resort's primary losses from the fire were the lodge's rental facility, tavern, café, restaurant and kitchen.

As a result, she said the resort is not offering rental equipment, but she said the wine hut is open and added of the hotel, "We plan to put in food and beverage facilities here while we rebuild."

On Sunday, the resort's website announced that the café had been moved to the glass room in the hotel and will offer "a limited menu" until further action is taken.

"We will rebuild," assured the website message from the management of Penokee Skiing Company.

White Eagle told the Daily Globe that it's not possible to speculate yet on "dollar damage or timelines," but said rebuilding will happen "soon" and "this year, for sure." She said the first priority was to tend to the lodge, which was still smoldering Saturday.

Fire reported

White Eagle said staff originally took note of the fire late Friday afternoon when they "noticed some smoke in the old Bernie's Lounge," which had renovation underway.

"They believe it was a chimney fire that got between the chimney and the roof," said White Eagle, who added no further information was yet available.

Iron County Sheriff's Department dispatch received the call about a fire at the main lodge at the resort in the town of Anderson at 4:18 p.m., according to a statement from Sheriff Paul Samardich. He said the Anderson fire department responded and was assisted by fire departments from Hurley, Montreal, the towns of Kimball, Oma and Saxon/Gurney, as well as Mellen, Ironwood Township and Bessemer Township.

"No injuries were reported as a result of the fire," said Samardich in the statement, adding the lodge sustained "major damage as a result of the fire" and "The cause of the fire has not been determined at this time."

The Iron County Sheriff's Department, Highway Department and Forestry Department all responded to the fire, as well as Beacon Ambulance, Bayfield Electric Company and the American Red Cross.

Samardich thanked the Red Cross, area businesses and individuals who donated and delivered food and refreshments to the first responders at the scene.

Open for business

Jordyn Bremer, who also does marketing and events for the resort, was in charge of Saturday's cardboard boat race, which she said had only four entries and so closed out much sooner than anticipated.

"Normally, we would have expected more people," she said, but added that participants still enjoyed the event.

According to Bremer, among the race winners were: Samual Voight, for the fastest time at 7.5 seconds; Logan Donahue, most original; and Mackenzie Lucas, most creative.

Bremer commended all of the resort clientele as "super understanding" and added gamely, "We're making it work."

White Eagle, who described Whitecap as Iron County's third largest employer, concluded, "The best way to support us is to come out and visit and have fun."

For now, she said, principal resort owner David Dziuban "is just very thankful for the community support and the people who've come out to help." She said people brought basic kitchen equipment and supplies, as well as food.

Overall, White Eagle stressed, "We have an amazing staff. We have an amazing community. We're really appreciative of everyone."


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