PORT ANGELES, Wash. — The community in and around Olympic National Park is still reeling after a fire destroyed the Hurricane Ridge Day Lodge.
The lodge at Hurricane Ridge was deemed a complete loss after a fire tore through the building on Sunday.
Heidi Walker with Discover Your Northwest, a non-profit that helps support the park, said she’s been going to the lodge since childhood and has already said that the lodge should be rebuilt.
On Sunday, firefighters found the lodge engulfed in flames when they responded at around 4:30 p.m. No one was at the lodge at the time and there were no injuries.
The Day Lodge had been closed to visitors since March for renovations, and the park received nearly $11 million in federal funding for the work. The 17-mile mountain road leading up to the building has also been closed since construction began, according to the National Park Service.
Video from the National Park Service’s website showcases some of the extreme weather that was common around the lodge.
After learning about the fire late in the day on Sunday, Walker said that it was one of the few structures in the park where people could congregate.
“I’m getting teary, almost like goosebumps. How can it be gone? It’s such a big part of the park, and it’s gone,” she said.
For Walker, losing the lodge is deeply personal, and comments on the Olympic National Park Facebook post echo that sentiment.
“Seeing that (fire damage) it’s almost like, almost like losing a friend even in my adulthood,” said Walker. Friends come from out of town (and) I like taking them up there because you can see the interior of the national park from that spot. For most people, that’s all that they’re going to see.”
Olympic National Park Public Information Officer Lee Snook also spoke to KIRO 7 and confirmed that the lodge was supposed to reopen by Memorial Day. Snook said it’s been a beloved part of the park since it opened in the 1950s and saw about 300,000 visitors each year.
Snook said it’s too early to think about whether the lodge can or will be rebuilt.
A federal fire investigator will be coming to the park most likely by Tuesday to start an investigation. Snook said right now, there’s no indication of what started the fire.
Hurricane Ridge remains closed.
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