The historic McConnell Hotel in downtown Kellogg caught fire Tuesday afternoon, with embers from the four-story blaze touching off another large fire.
The Shoshone County Sheriff’s Office confirmed the fire began at 3:20 p.m. and quickly spread throughout the old hotel located at the corner of Main Street and West Portland Avenue.
Kellogg resident Simon Miller shot video using a drone that showed the fire spreading to a nearby tree line along West Portland Avenue on a small ridge above and behind the hotel.
The fire ripped through the structure, burning through every floor. The roof caved in, one outer wall collapsed completely and another wall is bulging, said Kjell Truesdell, spokesman for Shoshone County Fire District 2.
Embers from the hotel fire, caught by the wind, triggered an additional fire about a block and a half away at Patrick’s Inn and Steakhouse at 305 S. Division St., said Truesdell. The building, which is vacant, had a wood shingle roof, he said.
Buildings in that area of Kellogg are close together, and the fire did spread to an adjacent building. While the McConnell Hotel is a total loss, there’s no word yet on the damage done to other structures that were burned.
The Kellogg Fire Department, supported by mutual aid from agencies across the Silver Valley and Kootenai County, converged on the area to put the fires out as well as wet down the buildings adjacent to the McConnell to prevent the fire from spreading further.
The hotel was vacant and no injuries have been reported among local residents. Avista reported as of 5:28 p.m. that 536 people were without power in Kellogg due to the fire. The estimated time of restoring power was 6:15 p.m.
The heat Tuesday played a factor in the firefighting effort. One law enforcement officer was taken to a local hospital for heat exhaustion; another was treated after re-aggravating an old injury.
In 2006, a coffee shop opened in the hotel’s lobby, and developers had plans to invest $30 million on a makeover, which would include 66 condo suites in the hotel and adding an adjoining structure behind the building, according to a story that ran in The Spokesman-Review.
Kellogg resident Jill Berber said she believed the hotel closed in the ’80s. “It was one of the nicest hotels between here and Seattle,” she said. “A lot of history there.”
As darkness fell, the exhausted firefighters kept working. Cindy Wilbur, the wife of one of the firefighters on scene, boxed up 60 hamburger-and-french-fry dinners from her restaurant, the Tall Pine in Pinehurst, and had her employees deliver them to the scene.
Wilbur said she wasn’t asked to do it and had no idea if anyone would pay for the meals. “It doesn’t matter if they do that or not,” she said.
Everyone was grateful to receive the meals, Wiilbur said. “Some of them said no because they have heat exhaustion and they feel like they’re going to be sick,” she said.
The cause of the fire is under investigation.