Historic Columbia River Gorge inn catches fire

Historic Columbia River Gorge inn catches fire »Play Video

CORBETT, Ore. - The historic View Point Inn in the Columbia River Gorge caught fire on Sunday, sending a plume of smoke into the sky and burning much of the building's top floor.

The inn's owners said two people walking around the back of the inn first spotted the flames and ran inside to alert employees.

The two people were fans of the Twilight movie. Part of the popular movie was filmed at the inn and movie fans often stop by to visit, the owners said.

Investigators said sparks from the chimney that landed on the cedar shake roof started the fire.

Staff members tried to put the fire out with a garden hose, but were not successful.

Deputies said several guests were in the building at the time. A wedding was also scheduled for the afternoon and the guests who had arrived were sent home. A nearby facility offered the host the wedding instead.

The View Point Inn is located near Vista House in the Columbia River Gorge.

The owners told KATU they have insurance, but aren't sure what all it will cover.

They had recently filed for bankruptcy and aren't sure how they'll be able to carry on.

"I love the inn, but I can't do it by myself anymore," said co-owner Geoff Thompson. "If Oregon wants this inn and if people want this inn, everybody's going to have to join in and save it because I just can't do it my myself."

The fire burned through the roof and did extensive damage to the second floor.

"It just went up in smoke, and what was strange is it started low on the roof. It was not up at the top at all," said co-owner Angelo Simione.

The inn was built in 1924 as a stop along the old Columbia Gorge Highway. It's on the National Register of Historic Places and once hosted President Franklin Roosevelt.

"This is devastating," said onlooker Betsy Lee. "This is such a landmark. It's very sad."