UPDATE: Cause of Fire at Hominy Ridge Lodge Still Under Investigation

BARNETT TWP., Pa. (EYT) – The fire that tore through Hominy Ridge Lodge in Cook Forest on Thursday evening remains under investigation.

According to Chief David Smith, of Sigel Fire Company, a Pennsylvania State Police Fire Marshal went over the scene on Friday, and the fire is currently ruled as undetermined, with an investigation ongoing.

Property owner Andy Pluta told exploreJeffersonPA.com it appeared that the fire began underneath the store part of the building.

“My renter was up here and saw fire coming out there and ran over to our house and yelled ‘Your house is on fire!’ We came running out, and it was on fire,” Pluta said.

According to Pluta, the renter was the first one to call in the fire, and it took about 45 minutes for the first crews to reach the scene.

Jefferson County 9-1-1 received the call around 7:04 p.m.

Sigel Fire Company, Brookville Volunteer Fire Company, Pine Creek Township Fire Company, Corsica Fire Company, Marienville Volunteer Fire Company, Farmington Township Volunteer Fire Company, Washington Township Volunteer Fire Department, and Jefferson County EMS were dispatched to Hominy Ridge Lodge on State Route 36 in Barnett Township, Jefferson County.

The scene was cleared around 10:23 p.m.

According to state police, the victims were a 55-year-old man and a 52-year-old woman, of Cooksburg, and a 28-year-old woman of Clarington.

No injuries were reported.

“They did everything they could, with the high winds,” Pluta noted.

According to Smith, the structure fire was already fully involved by the time the fire crews got to the scene, and there wasn’t much hope for saving the structure.

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“With the cold temperatures, the folks decided to let the hot spots burn out because it wasn’t in danger of spreading to any other buildings or properties,” Smith explained.

The structure was a total loss.

Damage is estimated at $500,000.00, police say.

“There was a store and a residence, as well as a car and two motorcycles that were lost in the fire, plus all of their personal belonging,” Smith added.

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While everyone got out safe, including the family’s four cats, Pluta noted that they lost all of their belongings, as well as the base for their business.

However, that isn’t stopping them from soldiering on.

“This is my income, this is what I do for a living, so I gotta keep it going,” Pluta said regarding their cabin rental business.

Their insurance company has jumped to action and will be providing a trailer for the family to live in for the time being.

“Some neighbors offered us places to stay, but I need to stay on the property,” Pluta noted.

While specifics of the future ahead are uncertain, he said they definitely will be rebuilding.

“I have to,” Pluta added.

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A Facebook fundraiser has been organized for the family.

Jill McDermott contributed to this article.


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