VAIL, Colo. (AP) _ At least two buildings on top of Vail Mountain were destroyed by fire and several others were damaged early Monday, and Forest Service officials suspected arson.
Firefighters were called in from throughout Eagle County to battle the blaze but, hampered by a lack of water, snow and rugged terrain, struggled to put out the flames.
The origin of the fire, which broke at about 4 a.m., had not yet been determined, according to Paul Witt, a Vail Resorts spokesman.
But Ed Nesselroad, from the U.S. Forest Service's regional office, said the cause ``is suspected arson.''
``The fire spread along a mile of mountaintop in a number of specific locations and there was no lightning last night,'' he said. ``If you can rule out natural causes you look pretty quickly to human.''
By 7:30 a.m. the patrol headquarters building, located at the top of Vail Mountain, and the Camp 1 skier day shelter, located at the top of the China Bowl ski area, were destroyed by the fire, the ski resort reported.
The Two Elk Restaurant, also located at the top of China Bowl, had been heavily damaged by fire.
Vail Fire Department spokesman Jeff Atencio said the fire burned at least three or four acres. Firefighters were having trouble combating the flames, in part, because of a lack of water and rugged terrain, he said.
Chris Buckman, assistant area coordinator for U.S. Forest Service, said access was also being limited by snow.
The Vail Valley Medical Center reported no casualties linked to the fire.
Vail is scheduled to hold the World Alpine Ski Championships from Jan. 30 to Feb. 14 The 1999 event will mark only the third time since the creation of the event in 1931 that the U.S. has played host to the international competitions.