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Bouquet Canyon — A onetime stagecoach slop that has become a local landmark was partially destroyed during an early morning fire Saturday [January 27, 1990].
Big Oaks Lodge burst into flames at 4:09 a.m., said Bob Goldman, Station III firefighter-paramedic.
Lodge co-owner John Smyth reported the fire after he smelled smoke from the on-site cabin he lives in.
Smyth's business partner, Dee White, said he used a garden hose to try and extinguish the blaze until firefighters arrived.
"He basically saved the building," White said.
Twenty-one firefighters were on hand to fight the pre-dawn blaze, Goldman said. When the first firemen arrived, flames were shooting out of the front half of the lower floor, and several windows had burst from the heat.
The fire extended into the kitchen and bar areas of the lodge, he said.
The dining area was extensively damaged by smoke.
The original building, about half of the current bar area, was built in the late 1800s. An addition to the bar was built in the early 1920s, and the dining area was added in 1929.
The second story of the building and 10 cabins were rented to local miners and travelers in the early years of the lodge. Only two of the cabins remain. About 20 percent of the structure was destroyed with damage estimated at $100,000, Goldman said. Another $50,000 worth of material contained inside the structure was lost in the blaze.
White is unsure if their insurance company will cover the entire loss and cost of rebuilding the lodge.
"Our insurance is a limited amount because we're in such a high fire hazard area," White said. "But somehow we're going to do it anyways.
"Everything is standing, and nobody was hurt. That's what's important."
The cause of the fire had not yet determined.
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Faulty Flue Caused Saturday's Big Oaks Lodge Fire.
The Signal | January 30, 1990.
Saugus — Investigators determined a faulty fireplace flue started a fire which partially burned Big Oaks Lodge on Bouquet Canyon Road Saturday morning.
Signs of prolonged wood-heating around a pipe led investigators to conclude that its misalignment led to the fire, said Fire Capt. Larry Wild.
The blaze was similar to other cases of fires caused by fireplace piping problems, Wild said.
The common factor is a half-inch gap around many of the fireplace gas pipes, he explained. The escaping gas dries the wood around the pipe, changing the wood's structure. Fire can then be ignited at a lower temperature.
The one-time stagecoach stop that has become a local landmark was partially destroyed during the fire.
Lodge co-owner John Smyth reported the fire after he smelled smoke from the on-site cabin he resides in.
Smyth's business partner, Dee White, said he used a garden hose to fight the flames until firefighters arrived.