Monastery lodge near Skykomish destroyed in fire

HeraldNet, January 11, 2009

Skykomish, WA (USA) -- A two-story lodge at the Snow Mountain Monastery west of Skykomish was destroyed in a fire early Sunday. No one was inside.

Robert Berryessa, an assistant chief for the Skykomish Fire Department, said the fire was probably started by power lines that were weakened by recent ice and snow storms falling onto the roof of the building.

When volunteers from the fire department arrived at the monastery at 12:05 a.m., the main building was engulfed in flames. It burned to the ground, but other buildings on the monastery compound were not damaged.

Berryessa told reporters that a caretaker was the only person on the property at the time of the fire. He said the caretaker attempted to fight the blaze with a fire extinguisher, but the fire "just spread and got too big for him."

“By the time we got out there it was pretty much a total loss,” he said.

The Buddhist retreat that is typically a summertime weekend destination. It is about two miles west of Skykomish on the Old Cascade Highway. Two other residential buildings at the monastery were not damaged, Berryessa said.