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Fire damages Guerneville lodge

  • Marie Rooney talks with a Forestville Russian River fire fighter outside her room which burned during a fire at the Guerneville Lodge in Guerneville, California on Monday, November 19, 2012. (BETH SCHLANKER/ The Press Democrat)

GUERNEVILLE -- Fire severely damaged a long-standing Guerneville lodge early Monday, displacing 12 people and sending six to the hospital for evaluations, fire officials reported.

Residents, including two babies, who lived there escaped the burning old River Road lodge thanks in part to one awake resident who smelled smoke and ran through the hallway yelling and pounding on doors.

"It was pretty bad. I was scared. I thought for sure some people would not get out," said Luke Owens, whose yells alerted his neighbors.

Guerneville Lodge Fire


Arriving Russian River firefighters rescued one man hanging from a second-story ledge as flames burned just feet away.

A second man was rescued from the window of his third-story room, which was filling with smoke, said Russian River fire Capt. Ryan Lantz.

Flames scorched about one-third of the 12-room, 6,500-square-foot Guerneville Lodge, formerly the Inn at the Willows. The riverfront lodge stands near the eastern entrance to town and has been the scene of many large events and celebrations over the years.

The fire charred three rooms, a kitchen and deck as well as caused smoke and heat damage to other areas, said Russian River Fire Chief Max Ming.

The damage was estimated at $300,000.

A 3:46 a.m. 911 call came from lodge manager Dorothy Fisher, who was awakened by Owens' shouts. Four minutes later a four-man Russian River fire crew arrived to find the west end of the lodge engulfed in flames.

Forestville, Cal Fire and Monte Rio departments also responded, totalling 17 firefighters and seven engines. Ming praised firefighters from several agencies who held the blaze to a portion of the building.

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