HUNTINGTON, Ore. — A man is facing charges after investigators say he set a devastating fire in Huntington's historic downtown Thursday night, burning multiple businesses.
Grady’s Tavern and Howell’s Cafe and Streamliner Lounge were completely gutted in the fire. The buildings are a total loss, officials say.
The Baker County Sheriff's Office has arrested 21-year-old Raynmon Haze Garcia of Huntington on arson charges.
See below: Google Street View of downtown Huntington in 2015 and what remains of the building after the fire.
Baker County Undersheriff Jef Van Arsdall said the sheriff's office received a report at about 10:45 p.m. of a disturbance involving Garcia at a home in Huntington. When deputies arrived, the victim of the disturbance told them that Garcia had said he was going to burn the bar down.
Garcia had already left the home before law enforcement arrived. Two deputies found him a short time later and determined no crime had been committed during the disturbance.
"Other than the statements he had made about burning stuff down, they didn't have any reason to detain him at that time," Van Arsdall said.
At about 11:40 p.m., however, one of the deputies noticed a large amount of smoke coming from Grady's Tavern on Washington Street, the main road through Huntington. Huntington Fire was called in, but the flames spread quickly, completely engulfing Grady’s Tavern along with Howell’s Cafe and Streamliner Lounge.
Fruitland Fire, Weiser Fire, Treasure Valley Paramedics, Baker Rural Fire, North Powder Rural Fire Department, Haines Rural Fire Protection District, Oregon State Police, and the Oregon State Fire Marshal were all called in to help fight the massive blaze.
Howell's and the Streamliner Lounge are in the Oregon Commercial Company Building, which was constructed in 1890. The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Grady's is the only bar in Huntington.
Van Arsdall said deputies found Garcia standing in the street in front of the burning businesses.
"He was located here at the scene, watching the fire," he said.
In a mugshot of Garcia snapped after his arrest, the suspect is smiling widely.
The fire remains under investigation, and officials have not released a motive for the arson. It's not yet clear how Garcia started the fire, or if any accelerant was involved, Van Arsdall said.
The undersheriff said the people of Huntington are mourning the loss of the downtown businesses. The fire came just days before the popular Catfish Derby, which is held annually at the Lions Club Park downtown.
"I know this holds a special place in their heart," Van Arsdall said. "This is a big weekend for them with the Catfish Derby. A lot of people have come down here and been pretty upset."
Clint Murray, who works at the tavern, says it was a quiet evening but it all changed when he got home.
"I was actually laying in bed and smelt some smoke outside," he said. "So I threw on my clothes and ran down."
When he got there, the whole building was already burning down and says everyone that could help put out the fire did.
"Every able-bodied person that could help was helping, a small town like this really comes together," Murray said.
He says losing the tavern and the historic building hearts his heart.
"There was a lot of history and memory that went up in smoke," he said.