Topaz Lodge and Casino will be closed an undetermined time after sustaining substantial damage in Tuesday's fire. Employees arrived early Wednesday morning to secure the casino's gaming operations. The fire, which started in the lodge attic above the business offices and is still under investigation, is believed to have been caused by an electrical short.
Late Tuesday afternoon the office staff noticed a strange smell and sent security to investigate but nothing was found. At 5:30 p.m., office manager Deanna Newman was closing down the office for the day when the smoke alarm went off. When security officers investigated the cause of the alarm, they found the attic filled with thick white smoke according to Newman.
Topaz Lake Volunteer Fire Department was first on the scene with additional units from Topaz Ranch Estates, Ruhenstroth, Gardnerville Ranchos, including the ladder truck, and Fish Springs, all arriving within 10 to15 minutes of the first report. The fire was declared extinguished at 7:11 p.m.
"We got everyone evacuated safely and nobody was hurt. That was the main thing," casino owner, Rob Cashell said. Cashell was confident that the casino and restaurants would not be closed for very long.
"We have a lot of cleanup and mop-up to do, there is a lot of smoke and water damage that we will have to deal with," Cashell said.
The majority of the fire damage was contained to the attic and the business offices in the new portion of the upstairs of the lodge above the casino floor.
"There is smoke and water damage on all three floors of the lodge," general manager Rick Ross said. "We're going to work night and day to get it back open as soon as possible. Obviously we won't be able to have our annual Easter brunch.
"The biggest thing is taking care of our employees," Ross said.
The lodge currently has a staff of about 150 employees and during the cleanup and restoration, the store, gas station and lodging accommodations will remain open. The lodge is offering special room rates of $35 a night until the casino and restaurants can re-open.
Ross credits the quick response on the part of the East Fork Fire and Paramedic District personnel for the fire damage being contained to just the attic and a small part of the top floor of the building.
"The response was terrific," Ross said. "We really want to thank those people."