Fire destroys Yakama sweat lodge - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Fire destroys Yakama sweat lodge

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TOPPENISH, Wash. -- An early morning fire guts a ceremonial gathering place, often used by Yakama tribal members.

Yakima County firefighters responded to a fire on the 200 block of Robbins Road in Toppenish, shortly after midnight Monday morning.

Crews quickly put out the fire to the sweat lodge, located behind the Toppenish Longhouse.

The Lodge received extensive damage to the inside portion of the gathering place.

No one was hurt.

Tribal members say the sweat lodge, which has been compared to a sauna, has been used for ceremonial spiritual cleansing and where members have come to pray. The lodge was built more than 10 years ago, according to Tribal leaders.

KNDO spoke to Kat Albert, who has been visiting the Lodge for years is devastated by the loss. "One of the ladies that comes here also, she told me that the Sweat house burned down," explained Albert. "And I go, well, let's go see, I gotta go see. I can't believe it. It's shocking."

Yakama Tribal police are handling the investigation. So far, no word yet on what started the fire.

Tribal leaders say it will be up to members of the Toppenish Longhouse, who maintain the structure, to determine when they'll rebuild the Sweat Lodge.

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