Fire completely destroys Olympic National Park visitor center
A fire on Sunday destroyed the Hurricane Ridge Day Lodge in the Olympic National Park.
The popular visitor center destination had been undergoing renovation, and was fully engulfed in flames on Sunday afternoon.
Officials say that by the time fire crews arrived the building had collapsed to the foundation and the structure continues to smolder under the rubble but is contained within the footprint of the building.
“The park team and I are saddened by the loss of the Hurricane Ridge Day Lodge, an iconic structure in the park and one of its most popular sites,” said Superintendent Sula Jacobs. “We are extremely grateful for the response of park partners in Clallam County Fire and Port Angeles Fire Department who responded to the incident. We are also grateful for the outpouring of support from the community as we move forward.
According to park officials, nobody was in the structure at the time of the fire and no injuries were reported.
The Day Lodge, located in the most easily accessed high alpine area of the park, had been under construction since April 3 and was closed to visitors. The Hurricane Ridge area had been on track to reopen later this month before Memorial Day weekend, but the building was to be closed for 2 years.
Hurricane Ridge Road remained open for 5 miles to Heart of the Hills Campground but the upper 12 miles leading up to the building had been closed since construction began.
Park officials say the structure appears to be a complete loss. The building was built in the 1950s and housed interpretive exhibits upstairs and a gift shop and small café.
The cause of the fire is currently under investigation.Park officials are securing a third-party certified fire investigator to source the origin and cause of the blaze.
The Hurricane Ridge Road from the Heart of the Hills Campground remains closed to the public as the park works to investigate the fire and make the area safe.
A fire relief fund has been organized by Washington’s National Park Fund to support the relief effort.
Decisions for use of the funds raised will be made by Superintendent Sula Jacobs and members of her leadership team, and 100% of the donations will be placed in reserves and put to good use later this year.