ATF: Greer Lodge fire was arson


by Jennifer Thomas and Stacey Delikat

Posted on June 8, 2011 at 11:40 AM

Updated Wednesday, Jun 8 at 9:56 PM

GREER, Ariz. – Investigators have determined that the fire that destroyed the main lodge at the Greer Lodge Resort & Cabins in the White Mountains was arson.

It's something the lodge's owners have suspected since the day of the fire.

"What the ATF has said today confirms our suspicion and that is that it was arson," said Doug Sandahl, the owner of the Greer Lodge Resort & Cabins.

Sandahl and his wife Denise spoke exclusively to 3TV's Tara Hitchcock about the search for the person behind the blaze.

"I know myself, my wife and my son...had nothing to do with the fire. I also know in my heart, that none of the employees had anything to do with the fire, so that means someone...from the outside set the Greer lodge on fire," Sandahl said.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is offering a reward of $5,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible.

"Arson is a violent crime that often results in devastating loss of life and property," said Special Agent in Charge Thomas Brandon. "We are committed to continuing our investigation with our partners and I am confident that the good citizens of the White Mountain area will come forward with information that will assist us in bringing those responsible to justice."

The fire broke out at approximately 4 a.m. on May 10. There were no injuries and the fire damage was estimated to be more than $2 million.

The lodge was originally constructed in 1948 and had been expanded and renovated over the years. The three-story structure contained 11 rooms and a restaurant. The fire did not spread to the surrounding cabins or forest.

The Greer Lodge Resort, which sits on the Little Colorado River, has been a popular getaway for decades.

ATF joined the investigation at the request of the Greer Fire Department and the Apache County Sheriff's Department.

Anyone with information about the fire should call the ATF hotline at 1-888-283-3473. All information will be treated confidentially and callers can remain anonymous.

The Sandahls are optimistic the person responsible will eventually be brought to justice.

"Truth always rises to the top, and we've felt that justice will be served and that the truth will come out," said Sandahl.