Washington Evening Journal
111 North Marion Avenue
Washington, IA 52353
BRIGHTON — A cabin once known as the Skunk River Lodge in Brighton burned to the ground early Wednesday morning, with Brighton and Washington fire departments paged out to the site around 4:30 a.m., according to responders.
The building is a former bar-turned-residence, according to locals, although emergency personnel said it wasn’t lived in at the time, and reported no injuries from the fire.
The structure itself, however, was a total loss, and continued to burn after crews got the blaze under control.
Farmer said it was safer to let the building burn itself out once the blaze was under control. He cited the safety hazard of an unstable floor, the need for specialized equipment to deal with tin parts of the building and the morning work demands of many volunteers who responded.
“If it was going to start a fire somewhere else or if it was really dry, we would do that,” he said. “But the fact that there’s snow, it’s cold, it’s wet, the wind’s blowing the right direction, it’s not going anywhere. It’ll sit there and burn itself out, but it’s going to sit there and smolder for a few days because of all the tin.”
The fire chief stressed that Skunk River Lodge’s smoking remains posed no threat under its conditions when crews left the scene.
“If it would have been a different situation, they wouldn’t have worried about going to work,” he said. “It wasn’t burning hard when we left, it was just cinders but we knew it was going to rekindle. So we made the decision to go ahead and not spray any more water.”
Farmer said a cause of the fire was not known, and likely wouldn’t ever become clear.
“The fire marshal won’t come and look at it, because it’s got to be … a big fire before the fire marshal’s going to come,” he said. “And I don’t think there’s anything really suspicious about it.”
The building is the third one in the county destroyed by fire since Friday of last week. While that rate is unusually high, Farmer said the increased use of indoor heating with winter weather could be at play.
“It might be the fact that heating has really started pushing in a little bit,” he said. “People need to be cautious about their heating stuff … it’s going to be a long winter at this rate.”