The search for three children missing after an explosion at a Paonia-area resort Saturday has been called off. Delta County Sheriff Fred McKee says the blast at the Electric Mountain Lodge left 16 people injured. Three children ages 3, 12, and 15 are missing, but authorities are not confirming any deaths. Authorities say the fire that resulted after the explosion left the building's rubble too hot to sift through and blowing snow Sunday made it difficult to get recovery equipment to the site. The three children are believed to be related to the lodge's owners.
The explosion happened around 2:30 Saturday afternoon.
According to Delta County Sheriff Fred McKee, initial reports came in as a propane explosion in the basement of the Electric Mountain Lodge north of Paonia. The Sheriff says there may have been a large party of people gathered at the lodge at the time of the explosion, possibly for a family reunion.
A command post for emergency personnel was set up at Paonia High School and the gymnasium there was transformed into a triage center. Care Flight helicopters from hospitals in Grand Junction and Durango, as well as a private helicopter from Montrose assisted in transporting the injured and members of law enforcement to and from the lodge.
The lodge is in a remote location and is only accessible this time of year by helicopter and snowmobile. According to the Electric Mountain Lodge web site the establishment is located at 9,200 feet in the Gunnison National Forest on Steven's Gulch Road. Emergency crews have closed the Steven's Gulch Road at the junction with Highway 133.
© KKCO NBC 11 News - All Rights Reserved