When Megan Lourie noticed a glow on her toilet wall late last Tuesday night, she thought it was headlights coming from the Ben Lomond Alpine Hotel car park.
As she walked through to the kitchen she saw the glow was not from lights, but from a blaze less than 100 metres away at the hotel and pub she ran with her husband Allan.
“I saw it was roaring and made the call [to triple zero] at about 10.20pm. Tasmania Fire Service arrived about 11.40pm and it had collapsed,” Mrs Lourie said.
As she watched her business burn Mrs Lourie could hear the structure crashing and parts falling.
“When the diesel tank exploded it was like a huge flame thrower,” she said.
“I’d never seen a fire before.
“It was a long time to be watching it on my own.”
The couple have vowed to rebuild the hotel and pub as soon as they can, but are waiting for the site to be cleared first.
We’re hoping to start building as soon as the snow melts.Megan Lourie
Clearing the site has been a big undertaking, hampered by a report that the structure contained asbestos.
Part of the rubble has been tested for asbestos and came back negative, with another test conducted on Tuesday.
The Louries have been speaking with insurance assessors, the hotel’s previous owners and Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service staff to determine whether there is asbestos in the structure.
“My husband was told it was contaminated. We were surprised because it’s only 30 years old and we had painted the walls and cleaned everything,” Mrs Lourie said.
They have owned Ben Lomond Alpine Hotel since 2014 and bought it as part of a 10-year plan.
While the fire poses a hiccup, the business plan is unchanged.
“We’re definitely rebuilding,” Mrs Lourie said.
“We’re hoping to start building as soon as the snow melts.”
It is unlikely any structure will be rebuilt before the 2018 ski season, but the Louries are looking at other options to take them through winter.
“We’ve seen some containers being used as pop ups. We need to start getting on the phone to get something happening,” she said.
They had planned to stay open beyond the winter ski season and into summer, using a kiosk installed at the side of the hotel.
“Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service is opening a new walking track to the summit. Ben Lomond has been very popular with people who want to walk in summer.”
The Ben Lomond and wider Midlands communities have rallied around the Louries, with Northern Midlands Council offering help with planning the new build and Premier Will Hodgman calling to offer his support.
“We feel very supported by everyone,” Mrs Lourie said.