An overnight fire destroyed the gift shop and a guest house on the grounds of Bishop Castle in Rye. Mrs. Bishop tells News 5 she found out about the fire from the Custer County Sheriff’s office.
The Custer County Sheriff’s Office said the fire was reported at around 5:30 a.m. from someone passing by the area. Deputies said the castle’s gift shop and an outbuilding were on fire and had collapsed when firefighters arrived. Bishop’s Son-in-law, Scott Moore, tells us that the buildings are a complete loss.
The castle began from humble beginnings.
"Digging the road in, cutting trees, two-man saw, hand axe, no chain saw… nothing like that," said Jim Bishop, who bought the land and built the castle with his father in the 1960s.
He never thought the two-bedroom cottage would become a tourist attraction in Custer County.
"The local people called it a castle," Bishop said. "Then, I figured if I build it, they would come."
And they do come, even when the castle is closed for an emergency.
"Already this morning, we’ve turned away probably 100 people that wanted to go up in there," said Chris Barr, undersheriff for Custer County.
The castle was not damaged, but flames had begun to creep up the mountainside. Recent snow in the area kept the fire from reaching the trees.
"Had we not got snow yesterday, the trees down here could have very well caught fire," Barr said. "And we could’ve had Junkins 2."
The attraction will remain closed to visitors while an investigation into the cause of the fire continues. According to the Wet Mountain Fire Department, the building may continue to smolder for the next several days.
The gift shop was leased to a woman who ran it. Moore said firefighters believe the fire may have started at the gift shop, but the cause is still under investigation. Per standard procedure, a Colorado Bureau of Investigation K-9 team was called to also investigate for arson.
Moore says this is a devastating loss and none of the buildings were insured.