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Heroic Effort Saves Historic Timberline Lodge

Ty Walker & Amber Ford

Heroic Effort Saves Historic Timberline Lodge

A fire was reported at 9:30 p.m. April 18 at the historic Timberline Lodge on Mount Hood. Hoodland Fire District first responders were dispatched to the scene, where flames were visible shooting through the attic and roof into the night sky.

All Timberline Lodge hotel guests and employees were immediately evacuated. No injuries were reported. The fire quickly escalated to a three alarm as fire crews from Clackamas and Multnomah County joined the effort. The blaze was declared under control by 11 p.m., just less than two hours from the first call.
Firefighters continued to work on the scene through the night protecting historical artifacts, artwork and furniture. The last crews left the scene at about 2:30 the next morning, declaring the fire out.
In total, 10 fire engines, three ladder trucks, five water trucks (tenders), four Chief Officers, and four additional pieces of equipment responded to the fire. Fire crews from Hoodland, Clackamas, Gresham, Estacada and Portland fire districts worked on scene.

Investigators suspect the fire was caused by fireplace embers igniting the roof of the headhouse, which is the central part of the lodge. But the investigation, led by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (BATFE) and U.S. Forest Service Law Enforcement, to determine the cause.
The lodge and ski area were closed the day after the fire, April 19. Timberline reopened the slopes to skiers April 20 and to hotel guests April 21.

The Hoodland Fire District thanked the employees of Timberline Lodge for detecting the fire early on, evacuating hotel guests and working hard to keep fire/water damage to a minimum. The fire and water damage is somewhat minimal with water contained in the headhouse and lobby areas and no internal fire or smoke damage.

“We extend the deepest gratitude to all of the fire departments that responded so quickly to extinguish the fire at Timberline Lodge,” said Meta Loftsgaarden, Forest Supervisor for the Mt. Hood National Forest. “We know Timberline Lodge holds a special place in the fabric of Oregon’s and the nation’s history and culture. Structural assessments of the damages caused to the lodge as well as the cherished works inside of it will begin as soon as they safely can.”

Declared a National Historic Landmark in 1977, Timberline Lodge is one of Oregon’s most popular tourist attractions, drawing nearly two million visitors every year. Timberline Lodge operates under a special use permit issued by the Mt. Hood National Forest.
Built during the Great Depression using craftspeople, artists and workers employed through the Works Progress Administration and other New Deal programs, it continues to serve as an iconic ski lodge and mountain retreat.
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Timberline Lodge guest Chris [no last name given], from Minnesota, was sleeping soundly, preparing for his trek to summit Mt. Hood when the alarms began. “I fell asleep early and woke to the sound of the alarms going off,” Chris said. With little to no time to grab their belongings, guests were ushered outside and then into the day lodge where Timberline employees began a headcount.

“All of the employees remained calm and provided great communication to us during the ordeal,” Chris said.
While guests were not permitted back into the lodge while fire crews battled the three-alarm fire, Timberline Lodge made safe access to the building possible the next day for picking up belongings and luggage.

Timberline Lodge employees encouraged guests who were within an hour of the lodge to head home, while other out of town guests were shuttled to Mt. Hood Oregon Resort in Welches, all services paid for by Timberline Lodge. A wedding service scheduled to be held at Timberline Lodge the day after the fire shifted as the wedding party and guests of the wedding were sent to Timberline’s Silcox Hut, 1000 feet above the lodge for their “I dos.”

The lodge continues to help guests affected by the fire, and is working through the repairs needed for historical restoration. For those interested in helping with the restoration and repairs please visit Friends of Timberline at

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