By Sue Carlbom
On October 10, 2020, the Bunkhouse Inn on Main Street in Augusta burned to a pile of rubble. But, as with most tragedies, when the smoke cleared there was some good to be found.
For starters, when the fire was first detected the streets were still full of locals who had congregated to watch the homecoming parade. In fact, the fire chief, Jason Mosher, was having lunch across the street and turned in the call immediately. Within minutes members of the Augusta Volunteer Fire Department were suited up and arriving with trucks and equipment. Because of the raging wind, it was obvious that saving the inn was not the only priority. Only a few feet to the north is Latigo and Lace, gift store and art gallery. If that caught fire the residences on the other side were in jeopardy. On the south side is the Augusta Service Station, an explosion waiting to happen. Reinforcements from neighboring fire departments were called to help.
Ross Geise, a 40-year Augusta Fire Department volunteer says, “After fighting the fire for several hours and thinking we had it contained, it blew up again later that evening. Our only recourse was to demolish the building to keep debris and embers from being blown to the other structures.”
Lori and Matt Folkman, owners of Wagons West at the north end of Augusta, had just purchased the Inn a couple of months before the tragedy.
“While having the Bunkhouse burn to the ground was one of the most devastating things we have experienced, the outpouring of love and support we have felt in the aftermath has sustained us,” explains Lori. “We are relative newcomers, and we have just been blown away by how helpful and generous the community is. We plan on salvaging items from the wreckage and incorporating them into the new building so the Inn can have a sense of nostalgia and honor the history of the Bunkhouse.”