Nestor Gutierrez owns and operates the farm with his wife Teri. He says the building lost to the blaze was a banquet and reception hall used frequently for weddings.
Gutierrez says there were already 17 weddings planned for the building this year. He says the couples have shown them nothing but support since learning about the fire.
“We’re going to do everything possible to please them and to fulfill our agreements with them,” says Gutierrez. “Nobody has cancelled yet. Our first wedding is planned for April. Of the seventeen now, we can transfer ten of those to our other venue- we have two venues here for receptions. Six of them were double-booking, so that’s going to be a little bit more difficult to handle.”
As for today, Gutierrez says the process of cleaning up from the fire began.
It broke out just before 8:00 last night at the 1630 Route 67 location. He says there was work happening inside the building to prepare it for a new paint job. The Morgan County Sheriff’s Office says a portable space heater was found close to where the fire started.
Chapin Fire Chief Scott Pahlmann says it does not appear to be suspicious in nature. He says the State Fire Marshal was brought in to determine an official cause.
The cost of the damage is still being assessed, but the building appears to be a total loss. No injuries were reported.
Gutierrez says no other damage to the resort was reported. The building was insured, and besides honoring agreements with he says the hope is to rebuild it sometime in the future.
“Our business, thankfully, is growing every year,” Gutierrez says. “My wife enjoys the wedding business tremendously. We keep hoping to grow and expand our operations.”
He says the support from the community has been tremendous.
“We’ve gotten literally hundreds of calls since last night, and messages and texts and Facebook messages, and we really appreciate the support of our friends and neighbors,’ he says. “We continue to encourage prayers and thank the community for all the support you’ve given us.”
Gutierrez says it’s high-priority to honor existing agreements with those who had rented space. Beuna Vista Farms, which was founded in 2006, has bookings into next year.