Fire destroys much of Avalon Resort lodge, Fire Marshal says blaze started in attic – The Morgan Messenger

by Kate Evans

A New Year’s Eve afternoon fire destroyed much of the lodge at Avalon Resort in the Hampshire County part of Paw Paw.

The fire call arrived at 3:41 p.m. on Tuesday, December 31, at the Hampshire County’s 911 Dispatch Center because of a fire on the roof of Avalons Lodge, a Hampshire County dispatcher said. The resort with optional clothing is located at 223 Avalon Road outside of Paw Paw.

Deputy Chief of the Slanesville Volunteer Fire Department, Brent Swisher, commanded the fire scene. Swisher said when he and the first units arrived shortly after the call, the dining room and kitchen roof began to collapse and the wind pushed the fire along the roof line to other parts of the building.

Swisher said the Avalon Lodge was a very large building – nearly 300 feet by 75 feet – and contained a dining room, kitchen, 18 rooms, an attached bar and casino, and an indoor pool.

Swisher said the lodge was not a total loss. Firefighters were able to save the bar, casino and pool complex. The dining room, the kitchen and the 18 rooms are a total loss.

The lodge is the only Avalon structure that was involved in the fire. There were no other structures or forests endangered by fire, he said.

There were no injuries to guests or firefighters. Swisher said some Avalon employees have been screened for smoke inhalation.

Swisher said most of the rooms at Avalons Lodge were rented out and that New Years Eve is one of the busiest days for the resort. The guests were evacuated before firefighters arrived, and Swisher didn’t know how many people were there when the fire started.

Fire and rescue units that responded to the fire were Slanesville, Augusta, Paw Paw, Berkeley Springs, Great Cacapon, Capon Bridge, Levels, Springfield, Oldtown, Ridgeley, Gainesboro, Reynolds Store and Fort Ashby Volunteer Fire Companies, and Hampshire County, Allegany Emergency Services in County and Augusta.

The command said that the fire was extinguished at 7.16 p.m., said the dispatcher. The fire was under control in two hours and units were on site for an additional two to three hours for overhaul, Swisher said. The last fire truck left around 8:32 p.m.

The fire was re-ignited on Friday, to which the voluntary fire-fighting companies Slanesville and Paw Paw responded, as well as other fire-fighting companies that responded to the second resuscitation.

The fire is believed to be electrical in nature and started in the kitchen, but the cause is still being investigated and determined, Swisher said.

Deputy State Fireman George Harms investigated the fire scene in Avalon on Friday. Harms said in an email that after investigating the fire scene and interviews with witnesses, he discovered that the fire started in the attic above the dining room.

Harms noted that it is most likely an electric fire as that would be the most competent source of ignition in the attic. The investigation is still ongoing to determine the actual wiring that caused the fire. Harms is currently saying the official cause of the fire is uncertain.

Avalon’s website advises that the lodge and indoor water center will be temporarily closed due to a fire until further notice. They also hoped for a reopening.

Swisher said it will be some time before Avalon Lodge can reopen after the fire is cleared and rebuilt

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