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Reward in lodge fire is increased

July 12, 2003|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

SHANNONDALE, W.Va. - The reward offered for information leading to an arrest and conviction of whomever started the fire that destroyed The Mountain Lake Lodge has been increased from $10,000 to $20,000, the lodge owner said Friday.

"That might nudge somebody in the right direction, hopefully," said Elizabeth Houghton.

The state Fire Marshal's Office is offerings a reward of up to $2,500 for information leading to an arrest and conviction.

The $20,000 reward consists of money donated by the community, Houghton said.

An investigation into the blaze remains under way.

The lodge, built in 1956 and overlooking a 55-acre manmade lake, caught fire sometime in the early morning hours of June 19.

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Houghton said a representative from her alarm company called her at home around 2:50 a.m., saying the lodge's intruder and fire alarms had been activated.

When Houghton arrived, flames were shooting through the lodge's windows, she said.

Houghton bought the lodge - which was the site of weddings, anniversary celebrations, luncheons and corporate functions - in 2000.

The lodge was already home to a restaurant, pub and fly fishing shop.

If someone is arrested in the fire, Jefferson County Sheriff Everett "Ed" Boober said he would like them to be charged under federal statutes. Investigators have been trying to determine whether the fire was a hate crime.

Anyone with information about the fire is asked to call the West Virginia Arson Hotline at 1-800-233-3473 or the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department at 304-728-3205. E-mails can be sent to jcsheriff@citlink.net.

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