A Mobridge couple is scrambling to prepare their business for this weekend’s ice fishing tournament after smoke damaged much of it.
A small fire Friday caused extensive smoke damage at the Wrangler Inn, one of the few lodging places in the area. Owner Jeff Jackson isn't sure how but says the fire started under a stairwell near a side door.
"Timing was not really good,” Jackson said. “The cleaning crew said this was a three to four-week process to get this cleaned up and ready to go."
That was one week before the 13th Annual Mobridge Chamber Ice Fishing Tournament. With smoke damage affecting the bar, restaurant and 35 of the facility's 60 rooms, its owners are doing what they can.
"Been in business 38 years and have no experience with a fire," Jackson said. "But we're finding out a lot. The cleaning crew has been awesome to work with. They're doing everything they can."
A crew of anywhere from 14 to 18 people is tackling the project and has been since Sunday. Cleaners are focusing on halls and close to 30 of the 35 damaged rooms. Owners will seal off the bar, restaurant and remaining rooms.
"Our concern is to get as many beds available as possible by Thursday and Friday," Jackson said.
That's because other hotels and motels in the community are booked. Still, owners are working on alternative plans as they clean.
"The support from the community has been awesome, has been great. We've had people calling us offering a home that's empty or they've got extra beds in their home. It's been great," Jackson said.
This would have been a big weekend for the Jacksons' restaurant and bar as well, but they say they can't afford to put time into preparing that space.
“There are other places in the community where they’ll be able to find places to eat and so forth,” Jackson said. “Beds are a premium.”