Update January 20, 2017, 10:35 a.m. - Boyne Highlands Resort President/General Manager Mike Chumbler today released the following statement in response to the findings related to the resort's Main Lodge fire on December 11:
"We would like to again thank the countless number of emergency personnel who assisted during this traumatic event as well as all who have worked intensely on the investigation. In addition, we extend our sincere gratitude to the community and local businesses for the gracious support.
"This event has forever impacted many of our lives and the lives of our guests. We're glad to be moving towards resolution as this case heads to prosecution.
"At this time, we're focused on our future. We have restored and reopened 79 of the Main Lodge's guest rooms, its pool area and fitness center and are working on renovation plans for the remaining guest rooms. All other areas of our operation are open for business, and we look forward to continuing to welcome guests as they enjoy skiing, golfing, and vacationing with us."
Update December 13, 2016, 3:40 p.m. - As law enforcement and state fire investigators continue evaluating the fire at the Boyne Highlands Main Lodge hotel, resort personnel are continuing to gain understanding of the fire and its aftermath.
"This was a traumatic event for many of our guests and staff members," said resort President and General Manager Mike Chumbler, "We continue to place their well-being as our top priority. We have made contact with all of the registered guests staying in the hotel that night to make sure that they're okay, and that their needs are being addressed."
Chumbler said that he's aware of statements made via social media and directly to the resort raising questions about the events during the early stages of the emergency.
"There are things we know, and there are things we still don't know," he said. "Some things that seemed clear in the early stages are now in question. Our goal all along has been to provide the most accurate information we can. There are large aspects of this investigation that are entirely the province of law enforcement and the State Fire Marshal's office, and we're cooperating with them fully. Some of the questions raised may not have answers until their investigation is complete."
About the hotel's fire detection apparatus:
The hotel's fire detection system was overhauled in 2006. The original system, installed when the hotel was built in the 1960s, relied upon wall-mounted alarm levers in the hallways, which required guests or staff members to pull a lever if there was suspicion of a fire. In addition to requiring someone to be present, the old system was vulnerable to false alarms.
The new system was installed to improve upon the industry standard of using standalone smoke detectors in each sleeping area, which only notify the occupants of that room. It incorporates microprocessor technology to provide early-stage smoke detection and reduce the occurrence of false alarms. Upon triggering, each detector is designed to initiate an in-room audible alarm and provide both audio and visual notice to a control panel in an area that's constantly attended (in this case, the resort's front desk).
These units are designed to communicate constantly with the panel, in part to prevent occupants from tampering with or disabling the detectors. The apparatus also includes a central backup power supply.
The system is designed to sound an audible alarm only in areas where smoke is detected. It does not, however, send a general alarm through the entire hotel or specific zones. Due to several guests stating that no audible alarms were heard, this is an area that remains under active investigation.
Once resort staff were aware of the fire, personnel responded to check on the identified location and began notifying guests of the need to evacuate. The resort's standard protocol is to contact the resort's safety and security team, begin calling guestroom phones if possible, and begin knocking on doors. As time became critical, resort staff focused exclusively on door-to-door evacuation procedures until staff members had to exit the structure for their own safety and emergency services personnel had arrived on scene and took over sole responsibility for the evacuation.
Slightly more than a year ago, resort personnel and the Harbor Springs Area Fire Department conducted a practice drill in the facility, which included a review of the detection system.
Impact on operations:
The fire and firefighting efforts seriously damaged approximately 70 hotel rooms in the Lodge. Most of the Lodge's common areas, however, are currently expected to re-open following cleanup. This includes the lobby, which handles check-ins for all resort lodging properties, the Slopeside Lounge and the Main Dining Room facilities.
The impacted area represents approximately 15 percent of the resort's lodging capacity. Resort staff are currently contacting guests with future bookings in the hotel to discuss available lodging options at Boyne Highlands and its sister resort properties in the area.
The resort hopes to know more in the coming few days regarding whether the undamaged section of the Lodge's rooms will be available for the Christmas to New Year's holidays.
The fire had no impact on the resort's skiing facilities. Lifts, trails and related services such as the snowsports school were unaffected, and mountain operations activities including snowmaking have resumed. The golf, as well as the meeting and event spaces, were also unaffected.
The resort re-opens at 9:00 a.m. on Friday, December 16. The resort shut down on Sunday, December 11, to begin recovery from the fire; it was previously scheduled to remain closed Monday through Thursday due to normal early season operating schedules.
The resort plans to re-open, as scheduled, for daily operations for the remainder of the season beginning Friday morning.
As the investigations by the Emmet County Sheriff and the Michigan State Fire Marshal's office are ongoing for the foreseeable future, at this time, the resort is deferring to these agencies and does not plan to release additional updates until these agencies announce their findings.
Update December 12, 2016, 2:00 p.m. - Inspectors from the Harbor Springs Area Fire Department and the Michigan State Fire Marshal's office returned to Boyne Highlands Resort this morning to resume analyzing a fire which damaged approximately 40 percent of the resort's Main Lodge hotel.
Emmet County Sheriff Pete Wallin has confirmed that 12 people were injured and were transported to McLaren Northern Michigan Hospital by ambulance and personal vehicles. One person was transferred to a hospital downstate for treatment of serious smoke inhalation, according to a news release from the Emmet County Sheriff's Office.
"Our first concern remains with those injured," said Mike Chumbler, the resort's president and general manager. "We will continue to do whatever we can to support them."
Chumbler also expressed thanks to the local, regional and state agencies who managed the emergency as well as the overwhelmingly supportive response and assistance coming from the local community and hospitality industry.
"The Harbor Springs Fire Department, other area fire departments, the Emmet County Sheriff's office - there are too many to name," he said. "We are incredibly grateful to them all for their response and aid to our guests and our team."
Boyne Highlands remains closed today as previously planned, which it would have been regardless of the fire.
The resort is currently in its early winter season operating mode, which means limited operations during midweek periods between Thanksgiving and mid-December. An announcement regarding re-opening of the resort and slopes will be made very soon.
Chumbler said that Boyne Highlands has started contacting guests with future reservations in the hotel in order to discuss resort lodging options. He also said that many parts of the structure were undamaged and will be re-opened after cleanup.
The resort has over 400 accommodation units on property, with a total of 148 guest rooms in the Main Lodge.
Boyne Highlands will release additional information as updates become available.
Update December 11, 2016, 1:30 p.m. - The Main Lodge hotel at Boyne Highlands Resort in Harbor Springs experienced a significant structure fire early this morning. The resort alerted 911 at 1:36 a.m. and first responders from the Harbor Springs Area Fire Department and additional firefighters and emergency medical and law enforcement officials were dispatched.
Boyne Highlands has received confirmation of 12 injuries, with one individual being transported to a hospital outside of the area. Due to patient privacy concerns and laws, the resort cannot provide information related to identities or specific medical conditions.
As of 1 p.m., firefighters were still on scene extinguishing hot spots in the structure.
There were 64 rooms occupied on Saturday night in the Main Lodge, with an approximate total of 113 registered guests.
"Our primary concern right now is for those impacted by the fire, and for their health and wellbeing," said Mike Chumbler, president/general manager of Boyne Highlands Resort. "We're extremely grateful to the fire, EMS, and law enforcement agencies who are managing the situation."
Initial estimates are that approximately 40 percent of the building sustained some degree of fire damage, and that much of the rest of the lodge was impacted by fire, smoke and water. The cause of the fire is under investigation by the Harbor Springs Fire Department and the Office of the State Fire Marshal.
The resort will remain closed today. A re-opening date has not yet been determined.
Additional information will be released when it becomes available and posted to boynehighlands.com.
Update December 11, 2016, 10:54 a.m. - Boyne Highlands has received confirmation of 12 injuries, with one individual being transported to a hospital outside of the area.
Harbor Springs, Mich. (December 11, 2016, 9:36 a.m.) - The Main Lodge hotel at Boyne Highlands Resort in Harbor Springs experienced a significant structure fire this morning. The building's fire detection system alerted first responders from the Harbor Springs Area Fire Department and 911 dispatched additional firefighters as well as emergency medical and law enforcement officials.
There are reportedly a small number of injuries, none of which appear to be life-threatening. The resort's central services such as lodging check-in and switchboard that are located in the Main Lodge are currently being moved to another location on the property. Boyne Highlands' slopes are closed today. Harbor Springs Area Fire Department and local EMS remain on scene managing the situation. Additional information will be released when it becomes available.
Additional details will be posted as soon as they become available.◂ Return to Deals & Packages