HOOD RIVER, Ore. -- Authorities are investigating a fire that destroyed a downtown Hood River business and caused minor damage to another.
The large fire broke out Wednesday evening at the Kayak Shed on Oak Street. Flames could be seen from blocks around and from nearby Interstate 84, said witnesses. By the time fire crews arrived, firefighters focused on preventing the large flames from spreading. No one was hurt in the blaze.
The fire comes on the heels of an already difficult month for the Kayak Shed. Over the last several weeks, road closures and smoke the Eagle Creek Fire drove away tourists and their spending money. Several stores told KGW they lost business as a result of the wildfire.
The Kayak Shed is no exception, either. One of the owners told KGW their business was down over 60 percent during September. On top of that, the store had recently acquired thousands of dollars of new kayaks to sell. However, Wednesday night’s fire gutted the shop.
“It’s sad, you know,” said John Schlosser, who owns the building.
For the last 15 years, Schlosser had leased the space to the owners of the Kayak Shed.
“Another slap in the face,” he said in regards to the fire coming on the heels of a slow business month for the store.
Schlosser added that the shop was one of the oldest buildings in Hood River.
“It was just kind of a historical place in Hood River, because it was built in 1880,” he said.
Schlosser’s family had owned the space since 1960. Due to the damage, Schlosser said the building would likely have to be torn down.
An adjacent coffee shop and apartment building received minor smoke and water damage because of the fire.
Four people who lived in the apartments above the café are temporarily displaced. Ground Espresso Bar & Café was closed Thursday as the owners cleaned up.
“It’s annoying,” said Carin Agren. Ground also suffered lost sales during the Eagle Creek fire. “This whole month with the fires, it’s been tough. I think all the businesses are hurting in town,” she said.
As of Thursday evening, the cause of the fire was still under investigation.