LEWIS & CLARK CO. - The town of Augusta lost a treasured landmark Saturday night, after a fire destroyed the historical Bunkhouse Inn and prompted temporary road closures overnight. Aside from a staircase, the blaze left little behind after crews spent hours of their day putting it out.
Smelling smoke down the street, Inn Co-Owner Matt Folkman tells Montana Right Now he had a sinking feeling, arriving to the sight of flames burning through the building’s windows.
“There were already people, you know, some of the neighbors helping, trying to pull water hoses, garden hoses, things like that,” said Folkman.
With locals giving support wherever they could, first responders’ firefighting efforts lasted well past midnight, hosing through multi-layered walls from years of remodelling.
“We can’t get water to penetrate that, that’s its purpose,” said Fire Chief Jason Mosher with the Augusta Volunteer Fire Department.
However, by Sunday morning the structure was a total loss. While insurance may help Folkman and his family get on their feet, he says it can never bring back the inn’s charm from over 100 years of guests.
“The old floors and their creek when you walked on them, there were bullet holes in the floors from an earlier standoff in the early 1900s, [there was] artwork in there… that’s what was going through my head, the history that we can’t replace,” said the co-owner.
Even so, Folkman encourages people to share their experiences with the hotel on its official Facebook page, keeping the Bunkhouse alive through people’s memories.
“History here is just - it means a whole lot for [my wife and I],” he said.
Thanks to everyone’s efforts, the fire didn’t spread to businesses nearby and no one was hurt as a result. Its cause remains under investigation.
Folkman says he’ll see what he can save from the wreckage, and thanks all the first responders for keeping everyone safe.