Burned parts of lodge sent to lab for analysis

June 23, 2003|by DAVE McMILLION

SHANNONDALE, W.Va. - Parts of the burned Mountain Lake Lodge have been sent to a federal Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives lab in Washington, D.C., to determine what started a fire that destroyed the stately building last Thursday, Jefferson County Sheriff Everett "Ed" Boober said Sunday.

ATF investigators have collected remaining parts of the building and reconstructed them, Boober said.

Investigators then focused on the part of the building where they believe the fire started, Boober said.

Materials were obtained from that part of the building and were sent away for analysis, Boober said.

It is hard to determine when the analysis will be completed, said Boober, who added it still is too early to determine whether the fire was suspicious.

Assistant state Fire Marshal Ed Robinson said any further statements will have to come from ATF officials.

Much of the reconstruction and sample-taking work was conducted at the site, Boober said.


Investigators worked at the site Friday and Saturday and completed their work at the scene late Saturday afternoon.

The lodge, an impressive building constructed of pine beams, sustained $2 million in damages in the fire. It was a former clubhouse for the Shannondale subdivision, housed a restaurant, billiards area and pub, and a fly-fishing and clothing shop.

The main floor was a huge dance hall that was the site of dances, parties and weddings over the years, officials said.

Richard Summerfield, a special ATF agent, said last Friday it was possible the fire was intentionally set. Investigators also were trying to determine whether the blaze may have constituted a hate crime, officials said.

Acts of vandalism have been committed at the lodge before, said lodge owner Elizabeth Houghton. Someone burned the lodge's sign, battered a fence with a stolen car and threw a gutted fish by the front door, Houghton said.

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