Marshal orders halt to ice hotel


The Alaska fire marshal’s office has ordered a halt to construction of the Aurora Ice Hotel near Fairbanks, citing public safety concerns.Bernie Karl, the hotel’s creator, said he is going ahead with his plans, building not a hotel now but one of Alaska’s largest works of art. He is creating the structure at Chena Hot Springs Resort with champion ice carver Steve Brice.

The fire marshal’s office issued an order Nov. 21 for construction to stop.

‘Under my First Amendment rights, I have the right to create an ice sculpture, and that’s what we’re doing’, Karl told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. ‘I suppose that this could be a long, lengthy battle, but under my First Amendment rights, they can’t stop me from making a work of art, I believe.’

Karl had planned to charge $878 for a two-person, two-night stay. The ice hotel was already being advertised as a travel destination, and Karl said it was receiving worldwide attention.

The hotel was expected to open as early as this weekend.Deputy State Fire Marshal Tom DePeter Jr. said ordering construction to halt on a project is not uncommon but is viewed as a last resort.

‘Since there were so many unanswered questions about the project, we had no other recourse other than to issue a stop-work order’, he said.If the state’s safety concerns are addressed, construction could continue, he said, declining to list those concerns specifically.

‘I think it’s a great idea, and hopefully it will be a real boon to the local economy and Mr. Karl’, DePeter said.

The structure, which Karl no longer calls a hotel, is expected to be completed by Christmas.

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