Sperry Chalet

Engineers inspect the Sperry Chalet dormitory building last week.

Photo courtesy of National Park Service

An encouraging word came from the top Friday that Sperry Chalet will rise again from the ashes.

First, though, its charred bones must be winterized.

“Rebuilding Sperry is one of my top priorities. Today’s announcement is the first step in that process,” U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke said in a news release from Glacier National Park.

The iconic, 104-year-old backcountry chalet was gutted on Aug. 31 when high winds shot embers from the Sprague fire into its eaves. The Glacier National Park Conservancy said Friday it will fund work to preserve and protect the historic structure before winter sets in.

The nonprofit said it has established an emergency fund of up to $90,000 and hired DCI+BCE Engineers. DCI Engineers, a Seattle-based structural and civil engineering firm, merged in June with Beaudette Consulting Engineers, which has offices in Missoula, Kalispell, Bozeman and Billings.

It’s the same team that consulted on repairs to the chalet after it was damaged by an avalanche in 2011. DCI+BCE Engineers will advise the park on an emergency stabilization plan for the damaged dormitory building before winter sets in. It will also buy supplies to do the work.

It's too soon to know what the future holds for Sperry Chalet, said Glacier superintendent Jeff Mow in a release from the Glacier Conservancy.

"This work represents the first step in assessing the extent of the damage to evaluate what future actions might be possible,” Mow said.

Doug Mitchell, executive director of the Glacier Conservancy, said the park submitted grant requests to his group a week after the fire. His board of directors unanimously approved it and established a “Sperry Action Fund.” Donations can be made online at glacier.org or mailed to Glacier National Park Conservancy, P.O. Box 2749, Columbia Falls, MT, 59912.

 “In addition to the more than 50 projects and programs the park has requested funding for in the coming year, our partnership with the park allows for a quick response to unanticipated and urgent situations like this,” said the conservancy's Lacy Kowalski. “When time is of the essence, private philanthropy allows us to react immediately to critical park needs."

Most of the buildings in the chalet complex weathered the fire as firefighters installed sprinkler systems, fire resistant wrap and defended the exteriors. But the dormitory building suffered extensive damage.

Stabilization work will protect the walls and chimneys from snow and weather damage this winter. Come spring, another structural analysis and a review of the site area will help inform decisions about the chalet's future, the park release said.

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