By John Larson
Fire crews were called out in Reserve to fight a fast moving fire early Tuesday, Dec. 14, that destroyed the village’s only motel, the 22-room Rode Inn. The primary blaze was battled for about six hours by 35 firefighters from seven volunteer fire departments.
A spokesperson for Reserve Fire Chief Donald Weaver said the business is believed to be a total loss.
According to the Catron County Sheriff’s office, there were no serious injuries to the nine motel occupants, although two people jumped from the second floor into a pickup truck bed.
“EMTs were on hand, and the victims were treated at the clinic. No one had to be transported to the hospital,” Undersheriff Ian Fletcher said. “The Sheriff’s office primarily worked traffic control. At first we had one lane open on Main Street, and then had to shut it down and divert traffic. At one point we shut down Bolke Street by the post office.”
Elena Gellert, owner of the Black Gold Emporium, watched the firefighting efforts from across the street.
“We opened at 6 a.m. and the fire must have started about 15 or 20 minutes before,” Gellert said. “It looked like it started in the west wing and involved the whole building pretty quickly. The entire building is gutted.”
As of Mountain Mail press time Wednesday, crews were still working on smoldering areas. “There was one room where they stored mattresses,” Gellert said.
Gellert said she and other merchants in town donated food and drinks to the emergency workers.
“This will really hurt the town, especially in the summer,” she said. “There are always tourists, hunters, travelers, those bicycle tours coming through.
“Eight people have lost their jobs, and in a town with a population of 400, it will be felt.
“Also, the motel had the only Laundromat in town. This means people will be having to drive to Cruzville, nine miles away,” Gellert said.
“It was a busy business,” Martinez said. “The loss of revenue from people staying there will be immediately be felt. They bought gas, shopped, ate at the restaurants, and went to Uncle Bill’s bar.”
Martinez said those who were staying at the motel are, as of Wednesday, still searching for lodging. “Those people don’t have a place to stay,” he said.
The Rode Inn is owned by members of the Kiehne family, which operates three other motels in Arizona.
Max Kiehne told the Mountain Mail in a telephone interview that the family was shocked to learn the building burned.
“I am very appreciative of all the efforts from the fire departments and all the fire fighters,” he said. “It was such a loss to the community, as well as our family.”
The Rode Inn started out as a six-room motel and opened in 1971 by Emil and Beverly Kiehne, according to Gary Kiehne. “A few years later it was torn down and the larger motel was built,” he said. “The rooms and service were designed to be on par with the national chains.”
He said it was too early to estimate the dollar loss, but “the insurance investigator is expected to arrive Thursday morning. The state Fire Marshal investigator is still on the scene.”
Photos courtesy of Alex Smith