A Huntington man is in the Baker County Jail today on a charge of first-degree arson for allegedly starting a fire that destroyed three establishments on the Main Street of Huntington.
Raynmon Garcia, 22, was arrested at 11:48 p.m. Thursday at 50 E. Washington Street in Huntington. The three-business historic structure had housed Howell’s Cafe, the Streamliner Lounge and Grady’s Tavern.
Marie Wilcox, owner of the Huntington Bait & Tackle Shop, which sits behind the burned building, talked through tears recounting how friends and neighbors rallied to save the Wilcox property, which also includes boat and RV storage areas.
Michael Wiley, who along with June Kenick owns Howell’s Cafe and the Streamliner Lounge, according to the Baker County Assessor’s Office, was the first person on the roof of the bait and tackle shop as embers flared and threatened the property, Wilcox said.
Wiley joined others to protect her property knowing that his building already had been destroyed by the fire, she said.
Grady’s Tavern, owned by Tim and Lillian Mathews and Sherman and Maxine Murray, according to the assessor’s office, also was destroyed.
Wilcox, who moved to Huntington with her family in 1985, said the destruction of the historic buildings was hard to look at.
“It’s just devastating,” she said. “It’s heartbreaking.”
She spoke proudly of how community members worked together to stop the fire.
“Everybody has their discontent moments,” she said, but residents were able to put those aside in the firefighting effort.
“The community came together, we pulled together,” she said.
In a press release this morning, the Baker County Sheriff's Office said that the incident started about 10:45 p.m. Thursday when Baker County Dispatch received a report of a disturbance in Huntington. When police arrived the victim told officers that Garcia had threatened to burn the bar down. Deputy Mills and Oregon State Police Trooper Schuette contacted Garcia and determined that no crime had been committed.
About 11:40 p.m. Mills noticed smoke coming from the area of Grady's Tavern. The Huntington Fire District responded and the buildings were already engulfed, according to the press release. Mills and Schuette found Garcia in the area and arrested him.
The investigation is ongoing.
See more in today's issue of the Baker City Herald.