Celebrations up in flames at Rusty Parrot

JACKSON, Wyo. — Billie and Taylor Wilson stored a bottle of wine in their room at the Rusty Parrot Lodge & Spa. They’d been saving it for more than 10 years and had planned to open it tomorrow for their anniversary.

They’ll never get to drink it, though Billie is hopeful the bottle will remain somewhat intact so they can keep it as a souvenir of the fire they survived.

[A happy update: Billie said firefighters found the bottle of wine “completely intact,” along with some of their other belongings. “Kudos to the firefighters,” she said.”]

The fire erupted on the outside deck at the Rusty Parrot Lodge at around 11:30 p.m. Monday, November 19. Initial investigations from Jackson Hole Fire/EMS suggest a nearby gas fireplace sparked the covering of an exterior sitting bench, but Fire Marshal Kathy Clay does not expect to finish the investigation until the end of the week.

“It was an exterior fire, but it went in quick,” Clay said.

The Wilson’s were not the only guests in town for a special occasion. The Platts, too, were celebrating Joanne Platt’s birthday. They also planned to spread George Platt’s father’s ashes in the Snake River. Luck was on their side in one way: Platt had put his father’s ashes in the family’s Teton Village condo, so they were safe from the fire. The rest of the belongings the couple traveled with are likely gone, save a mink jacket Joanne wore out the door.

“I would give anything to have my glasses,” Joanne said. “But it’s all minor, really.”

The guests still had cause for celebration this morning: they were alive. They escaped the fire unharmed. And they were treated to some good old Jackson hospitality.

“[Billie] is the reason I found my way out,” Joanne said, embracing her new friend. She said Billie had shown her the way through a smoke-filled hall and out the back stairs.

Joanne Platt (left) and Billie Taylor. Photo: Buckrail // Shannon Sollitt

All five guests said they were grateful to Rusty Parrot owners Brandon Harrison and his wife Laura.

“I have his wife’s clothes on,” Joanne said.

The Rusty Parrot paid for rooms for all five guests next door at the Parkway Inn.

Skinny Skis opened its doors early this morning so stranded guests could buy new clothes. An Enterprise Rental Car customer service rep, Zach Swan, made sure the Platts had access to a new car because their keys are stuck in the room.

“These people have been so incredible,” Joanne said.

Jackson Hole Fire/EMS was still wrapping up at the scene this afternoon. Roughly 30 firefighters total responded, according to a press release from Teton County. One was treated for a minor injury at St. John’s Medical Center.

The building is likely a total loss. “Any time you lose a building, it’s sad,” Clay said. But classic log cabins like the Rusty Parrot, which has been around since 1990, are especially tragic.

“This is a really tough loss,” Clay said.

What remains of the Rusty Parrot Lodge & Spa. Photo: Buckrail // Nick Sulzer

About The Author

Buckrail @ Shannon

Shannon is a Wyoming-raised writer and reporter pursuing a master's in journalism at Boston University. Jackson shaped her into an outdoorswoman, but a love for language and the human condition compels her to write. She believes there's no story too small to tell nor adventure too small to take.

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