Fire destroys Marble Mountain snow shelter

By Erik Robinson, Columbian staff writer

Published:

Updated: April 11, 2011, 7:08 PM

 
photoMarble Mountain Sno-park

A popular warming shelter burned to the ground early Saturday at the Marble Mountain Sno-Park near Mount St. Helens.

The cause is unknown and under investigation.

The structure, built about 20 years ago, is popular with snow-shoers, snowmobilers and other winter recreationists.

“It’s used heavily by winter sports enthusiasts exploring the south side of Mount St. Helens,” said Chris Strebig, spokesman for the Gifford Pinchot National Forest.

This time of year, when snow depths are at their greatest, Marble Mountain also serves as a jumping off point for climbers making the trek up the volcano.

Strebig said Forest Service recreation technician Randy Peterson received a call about the fire at 5:30 a.m. He arrived at 7 a.m. to see the structure collapse, Strebig said.

“This was one of the nicest snow shelters in the state,” Peterson said in a prepared statement. “It is a big loss to the forest and local communities.”

The log shelter featured a large wood stove in the center, with a heating baffle system. Forest Service officials have cordoned off the remains, which were still smoldering as of Monday morning.

It was constructed through a partnership between the state, snowmobile clubs, local businesses and the Forest Service.