Big Horse owners will be back in the saddle by mid-summer, if rebuilding goes according to plan, after a Thursday fire damaged the 32-year-old building.

Owners Randy and Susan Orzeck said the restaurant will be closed at least 8-10 weeks as a result of the fire. Demolition will start in about a week, and likely take two weeks, and that’s before reconstruction can start.

“This is rough because it comes at the start of our busiest season,” Susan said.

The brewery operation, located on the ground floor, could be up and running in two weeks, but not until sufficient power can be dedicated to the tanks, coolers and other equipment. That means basic beers such as pilsners might be ready within 4-5 weeks.

The cause and financial cost are yet to be determined, according to the Orzecks, who met Monday with fire investigators.

The fire at Big Horse, 115 State St., was the first of two that Hood River Fire & EMS responded to on Thursday night in the City of Hood River. Crews arrived to find significant flames and smoke coming from the rear of the structure, said Chief Leonard Damian.

While crews were picking up from the fire at 1:45 a.m., a residential fire was reported at 3100 Block of Elliot Drive. 

Two adults and two pets were displaced from the Elliot Drive home. The American Red Cross will be providing temporary housing and any other essential needs.

At 10:15 p.m., Hood River Fire & EMS crews were dispatched to a report of a fire at the Big Horse Brew Pub. Multiple callers to 911 were reporting heavy black smoke from the roof on the east side of the building.

The first arriving engine company reported smoke showing from the roof and windows of the building. Though crews quickly isolated the fire, the complete extinguishment was challenging and took time due to the numerous voids above the kitchen area, according to Damian. 

HRFD was assisted by units from West Side Fire District, Wy’East Fire District, Parkdale Fire District and Underwood Fire.

At Big Horse, the east wall of the restaurant section of the building was heavily damaged as flames filled space within the wall and caused smoke damage throughout the structure.

Everything has to be removed from the two-story dining room and bar, kitchen and office. The sheetrock, insultaion and framing needs to be replaced, according to the Orzecks. And, since smoke rises, “every wall and ceiling upstairs,” said Randy, who built the structure in 1987, the first brew pub in Hood River.

The Orzecks said they are doing “everything we can to keep our employees.”

Randy added, “We’ve had employees come and tell us they don’t want to work anywhere else.”

The cause of the fire is undetermined and no damage estimate is available, according to Damian. HRFD was assisted in the Elliot Drive fire by West Side Fire District. The fire was contained to the structure and nearby vegetation. 

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