Skwentna’s Shell Lake Lodge heavily damaged by fire

Skwentna’s Shell Lake Lodge heavily damaged by fire
Published: Feb. 13, 2023 at 8:39 PM AKST|Updated: Feb. 13, 2023 at 8:53 PM AKST
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SKWENTNA, Alaska (KTUU) - A fire on Monday caused serious damage to the primary structure at Skwentna’s Shell Lake Lodge, a popular spot to stop for the competitors and fans of the Iditarod Trail Invitational, Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race and Iron Dog races.

According to Cat Peterson, who helps run the lodge owned by her mother Zoe Brinker, the fire started in a pipe connected to a wood stove. Peterson also said that the lodge operators and current guests did everything in their power to extinguish the flames.

Despite the tragedy just weeks ahead of one of the lodge’s busiest seasons, Peterson says love for her family’s business is pouring in.

“The support is amazing. Iron Dog — those are our family those people are our family — sorry it’s really hard,” Peterson said by phone, speaking through tears.

“But they have already sent out all sorts of emails, Facebook mostly. You know, ‘Our hearts are with you, we are praying for you, what can we do?’ Iron Dog organization, they are our family. Iditarod, all of them they are family — that’s who supports our lodge.”

Peterson said that while the main part of the lodge has burned down, the surrounding cabins are still in working order — however, the lodge is not able to serve food, as the kitchen was in the burned section of the lodge. The lack of a kitchen doesn’t deter Peterson, and she hopes it won’t affect guests too much.

“If they still want to stay at the cabins, we will try to figure out how to host a big caldron of soup outside on a stove of some kind, and feed them some hot soup outside,” said Peterson.

The lodge recently installed a fire hose system due to the threat of summer wildfires spreading to trees killed by spruce beetles. Unfortunately, the hose system is designed to pump water from nearby creeks, which are currently frozen and inaccessible.