Fire on Mountain: Blaze set by vandals damages peak at Mont Ripley

Photo provided by Nick Sirdenis Damage is seen at Mont Ripley from a fire earlier this month. The hill is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the person or people responsible for the fire.

RIPLEY — Mont Ripley is offering $1,000 for information leading to the arrest of people who started a fire at the top of the chairlift area earlier this month.

Hill manager Nick Sirdenis said one of his ski patrollers was hiking on the weekend of May 8 and spotted the damage.

The damage will take several thousands of dollars and a week’s work to repair, Sirdenis said. If the fire had escalated, he said, it could have destroyed the whole lift. Close by the fire was the wire rope to which the chairs are attached.

“They’re the hardest known steel known to man,” he said. “They’re great and they’re strong, but they don’t like heat.”

Testing showed no damage to the rope. The hill plans additional testing, and is bringing in an expert later in the year to look at it.

“All this for the stupidity of creating damage to have fun,” Sirdenis said.

The incident was the latest vandalism at the hill. In the past, Sirdenis said, people threw rocks at windows; when they boarded up the windows, people then threw rocks to break the boards, then broke the windows. People also removed a plastic covering to damage thousands of dollars in valves, he said.

“I’m just getting tired of it,” Sirdenis said. “I’d like to send out a signal that if you’re going to do things like that, we’d like to do something to try and catch you.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact Mont Ripley at 487-2340 or Michigan Technological University Public Safety at 487-2216.