By Randy Arrington
LURAY, May 3 — An early morning fire on Monday, April 18, 2022 destroyed two “historic” buildings in the Big Meadows area of the Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park. The blaze caused more than $500,000 in damage, claiming a maintenance building, vehicles and the Blackrock Lodge.
When the call came in at 2:48 a.m., firefighers had to use a park access road at the end of Tanner’s Ridge Road, “which is steep terrain all the way,” according to Stanley Fire Chief Terry Pettit. It took units “22 minutes to reach the scene and upon arrival firefighters found Blackrock Lodge fully envolved.”
A year later, efforts continue to clean up the site and plan for reconstruction. Contractors hired by the national park’s concessionnaire Delaware North “recently demolished the buildings and performed site restoration for future construction,” according to park officials.
“The National Park Service is working with Delaware North to get the buildings rebuilt,” Shenandoah’s Superintendent Pat Kenney said.
Chief Pettit stated that when firefighters arrived on the scene over a year ago, not only was the 10-bedroom Blackrock Lodge on fire, but a pickup truck, maintenance building and the brush area around the lodge was ablaze as well. Park officials labeled both the lodge and the nearby maintenance building as “historic.”
No specific timeline or cost for reconstruction was given by park officials.
Investigators have ruled the cause of the blaze to be Mother Nature, as multiple trees at the site showed damage consistent with lightning strikes.
“These trees are in close proximity to both the ‘Blackrock’ building and neighboring maintenance building,” park officials stated. “The electrical damage to the buildings is consistent with an extreme electrical event causing the damage. Therefore, this event has been classified as NATURAL due to lightning strikes.”
The April 2022 fire was originally reported by a visitor to the national park in the Big Meadows camping area. Park officials confirmed that, “The Big Meadows Lodge complex [had] not opened for the season, so the buildings were unoccupied.” No injuries were reported during the incident.
It took nearly two hours to bring the fire under control and units remained on the scene until 10 a.m. A foam unit was brought to the scene from Merck (south of Elkton) to blanket the remains with foam to make sure it was out. Firefighters were hampered by low water pressure in the fire hydrants, and water had to be shuttled by tankers to the scene.
Chief Pettit praised all the members who responded to the call, not only did they have the problem of multiple fires and low water pressure, but the weather was a major factor.
By morning on April 18, 2022, the temperature was 26 degrees with high winds and sleet and snow falling totaling nearly four inches. Tanners Ridge recorded seven inches of snowfall in some areas. Chief Pettit stated his department also responded to a vehicle accident call at the same time of the fire.
For more information on Shenandoah National Park,
Fire at Big Meadows causes $500,000 in damage, county ambulance wrecks en route to call
Wildfire in Shenandoah National Park contained
Shenandoah National Park plans prescribed burn of 50 acres at Big Meadows
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