Fire Damages Mountain Creek Ski Lodge

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Vernon, NJ Oct. 11 (AP)--The Mountain Creek ski lodge was completely destroyed by fire Sunday morning, police said.

Fire officials were notified shortly before 7:30 a.m., and approximately 200 fire fighters from 20 different departments in the region were called to the scene, said Ken Clark, chief of the McAfee Fire Department in Vernon.

The blaze was brought under control around 9:45 a.m., Clark said.

The New Jersey State Police arson unit is investigating the incident. Clark said investigators believe the fire may have started in a Dumpster next to the lodge.

No one was reported injured, and everyone at the ski lodge was accounted for, said Sussex County Prosecutor Dolores Blackburn.

Mountain Creek was formerly known as Vernon Valley-Great Gorge Area. Its name was changed after Intrawest Corp., a Canadian company, bought the financially-troubled ski area in February 1998, hoping to turn it into a year-round resort with restaurants, stores, a mountaintop golf course and more than 1,000 new homes.

Roger McCarthy, Eastern regional vice president of development for Intrawest, said officials still planned to open the ski area for the season by Dec. 15. He said the company would probably not be able to rebuild the lodge by then, but that none of Mountain Creek's ski lifts or snowmaking equipment was damaged in the fire.