Owners of historic Estes Park lodge plan to start restoration after fire

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ESTES PARK, Colo. -- The owners of a historic lodge in Estes Park that was damaged in an overnight fire said restoration crews will begin work immediately with the goal of being able to reopen event spaces in two weeks.

Firefighters said the fire at Marys Lake Lodge started in the back of the building after 8 p.m. Saturday.

The building was built in the 1900s and was made mostly of wood so firefighters said the flames spread quickly.

"Once that roof caved in, we called all firefighters out," said Michael Richardson with the Estes Valley Fire Protection District. "This was certainly a big fire fight for our small town."

A wedding was in progress when the fire broke out. The father of the bride, Mike Friedel, said the group had finished speeches, dinner and had danced two songs when they were told to evacuate.

"There wasn’t much we could do. They held everyone back once the first responders were on site," Friedel said.

Christine and Stephen Rushfeldt married at the lodge on Friday night. They were eating dinner when smoke started billowing over the top of the restaurant's awning.

The Rushfeldts said they watched as the flames reached their honeymoon suite, filled with wedding mementos from their big day and Christine's dress.

"At that point we started getting sick to our stomachs wondering what was going to happen to everything we brought out here, everything our families had given us," said Stephen Rushfeldt.

On Sunday, the firefighters used a ladder to climb into the Rushfeldts' suite. Inside, they recovered much of their memorabilia and Christine's wedding dress.

"I was planning on leaving Colorado without any of my wedding stuff but when I heard that, I just feel so good. So warm inside," said Christine Rushfeldt.

The owners of the lodge said they plan to have restoration crews begin work as early as Sunday night.

The owners said 90 percent of the lodging was not impacted by the fire and the wedding reception room was OK.

The owners said the fire was contained to hotel rooms in the middle of the hotel and there was smoke and water damage to the basement.

The owners of the lodge said weddings will be re-scheduled for the next two weeks.

It will work with all brides impacted by this to find alternative locations. After two weeks, the owners are optimistic they will be able to reopen the event space.

In the meantime, the owners of the lodge said all employees will remain on staff and working.

The ATF is investigating the cause of the fire.

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