Friends and family of Two Rivers Lodge share thoughts on recent arson
FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) -
Tucked away behind the spruce trees, a short drive down the Chena Hot Springs road outside of Fairbanks, Alaska, are the charred remains of the Two Rivers Lodge. The popular restaurant and bar was the latest building in a string of arsons that consumed the small town of Two Rivers.
Kimberly Croan has worked at the Two Rivers Lodge for much of her life. Her parents bought the establishment over 15 years ago, where they too worked before ownership.
“I lost my job. We’ve lost for the whole winter. Get-togethers, family and friends, and seeing each other every weekend. Being a part of each others lives all winter when it is dark and it’s cold, and you need friends and family,” she said in an interview.
For the small town a piece of history is gone. The town, a family, and all those intertwined with the lodge are still in disbelief.
“It is just shocking, just seems unreal that a place built on love and everything had to be taken away,” exclaimed Chelsea Davis, a local resident and employee at the restaurant.
Davis went on to say when she wasn’t working at the lodge, it was a place where she would gather with her family and friends. She is thankful she wasn’t in the building when the fire occurred, but rushed to the scene when she was informed of the arson taking place.
“Thankfully my co-workers were able to get out safe, but it is sad to see how many people it has directly affected,” said Davis.
Maria Bristor has lived in the Two Rivers area for 16 years where she raised her two children alongside her husband. Bristor and some of her neighbors in the community maintain the ice rink outside the lodge.
“Lives have been ruined, in shambles. Money is lost, incomes lost. Family memories, lost. So thankful no lives were lost. That’s a very good blessing, “said Bristor.
The suspected arsonist has been arrested and only charged with 7 of the 11 Two Rivers fires, leaving the community wondering if he worked alone.
Kimberly Croan went on to say, “Right now it’s so new to be able to relax cause you never know if there is another person out there that is going to take down something else or if we can actually relax and go to sleep at night and know that now we can just move on and start new.”
Despite the unease that still lingers, Kimberly and others are hopeful. Knowing that in hindsight it has brought the community closer, working together through these adversities.
“It has just brought us all together. No matter even though we don’t have the lodge, we all are somehow still getting together and you know making sure we are all okay. Messaging each other you know, seeing how everyone is doing and how they are holding up,” said Croan.
Chelsea Davis spoke with anticipation that she hopes the community will come around together, saying this won’t be the last of the Two Rivers Lodge, but a new beginning.
“We are a force to be reckoned with. Like, you can’t stop us and you won’t. So it’s, we’re going to be greater and bigger and better. We are going to grow and rise from it,” she stated.
The owners have plans to rebuild the lodge, although at this time, a set date has yet to be determined.
On Wednesday September 8th 2021, alleged arsonist 17-year old Jamison Gallion was arraigned via teleconference.
Gallion’s lawyer, Kenneth Covell entered a plea of not guilty.
The case has been assigned to judge Paul Lyle, and an omnibus hearing is scheduled to take place on October 7th.
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