Jellystone Fire Victims Determined to Rebuild
When Tammy Westrich, co-owner of the Jellystone Park near Austin, Minn., saw the remnants of the main lodge after it burned down early Oct.9, she knew right away she wanted to rebuild.
“There’s nothing salvageable,” said Westrich, who co-owns the campground with her husband, Ken. “One way or another, we will prevail. We’re going to rebuild.”
As reported by the Albert Lea Tribune, the Westrichs were in San Diego, Calif., to attend Tammy’s son’s Marine Corps graduation when they got the news. Westrich, who lives in a house at the campground, said she got a call around 4 a.m. that the ranger station was on fire. Her teenage children confirmed the news over the phone as they looked at the flaming building from their house at the campground.
“They said, ‘Mommy, it’s bad,’” Westrich said. “It was everything. It’s all gone… We’re just kind of shocked and scared.”
Westrich is sure she and her husband will rebuild. The fire could have caused much more damage than it did, she said. Westrich said she and her family are very thankful to the firefighters who worked for several hours to contain the fire, which was reportedly caused by an electrical malfunction.
Westrich is also thankful no damage was done to the Yogi Bear statue that stands near the ranger station.
“You feel like you’re being punched in the stomach as hard as you can, but you open your eyes and our big statue of Yogi Bear is just standing there, and he should have burned,” Westrich said. “The paint didn’t peel off of him; he’s just standing there proud.”
The ranger station and everything in it was a total loss. The building housed the campground’s offices, dining room, restaurant, gift shop, arcade room, teen hangout room, laundry room and bathrooms with showers.
Westrich’s son spent two months last summer power washing and lacquering the outside of the building, and the Westrichs put down new tile less than a year ago.
“That was our big project,” Westrich said. “We were so proud of ourselves.”