Fire Destroys Coffee Shop in Bingen

At about 2:00 a.m. on July 18, Mugs Coffee Shop in Bingen caught fire. A passerby saw smoke coming from the building and then saw it go up in flame and called 911. The fire is being investigated by the Clark County Fire Marshal’s Office, at the request of local authorities.

Two fires that broke out in Bin-gen last Tuesday and Wednesday morning have left one building uninhabitable and a second decimated.

The first fire broke out at around 8:30 p.m. on the deck of a home at The Guided Path homeless shelter, which is owned and operated by the Washington Gorge Action Programs (WGAP).

The residence sustained significant damage to the deck, roof, outer wall, and exterior door, as well as smoke damage on the interior.

The families living there at the time were evacuated and have been staying at a hotel while they wait to get in touch with Red Cross, which was called on scene to help the families. The damage to the shelter has made it uninhabitable.

“I would like to thank the fire department for their quick response and thank the community for their ongoing support. This has certainly been an interesting year for WGAP, but we’re thankful to be here and thankful for the opportunity to do this work,” said WGAP Executive Director Leslie Naramore.

Firefighters are unsure what started the fire and, due to its small scale, will not be making further investigation.

The second fire broke at about 2 a.m. on Wednesday, according to Bingen-White Salmon Police Chief Mike Hepner. “A passerby called to report Mug’s Coffee was on fire. The building was fully engulfed when fire personnel arrived. Fire departments from Bingen, White Salmon, Fire District 3, Hood River, and Underwood responded. Thankfully, there was no one inside the business at the time of the fire and no injuries were reported.”

The Clark County Fire Marshal will be investigating the cause of the fire. However, due to extensive damage to the roof and flare-ups at the scene, the Fire Marshal has been unable to enter Mugs for safety reasons.

“May have to wait for the tin roof to be pulled off before he can investigate,” said White Salmon Fire Chief Bill Hunsaker.

“Our best guess right now is that it’s an electrical fire that started in the attic of the building,” added Hunsaker in a phone call with The Enterprise.

Mugs is insured but it will take months, possibly a year for the business to recover, according to the owner Blair Carr.

“My number one priority is to get my staff back to work. They need Mugs almost as much as I do,” said Carr.

“When I bought the building eight years ago and opened Mugs Coffee, I did so with the belief that Bingen was a town worth believing in. I know my customers by name, I know their dog’s name, their children’s names, I know what they did over the weekend and what matters to them the rest of the week. That’s something you won’t find anywhere else but right here in this little town,” she added.

Carr has already secured another building in Bingen to rent for Mugs to operate out of in the meantime. Over the course of the next year to year and a half, they will rebuild the original Mugs

“It will be even better! Because it will be built on hope and the belief that through hard work and perseverance and the support of a community anything is possible. I need that hope,” said Carr.

“I would like to thank the whole community that has offered their support. For volunteering in any way possible. I’d like to thank Insitu who has offered volunteer hours in whatever capacity we may need. But most importantly I’d like to thank all the fire departments that rallied around us that night. That bravely fought to save Mugs with courage and perseverance. These were our customers and they knew how much it meant to me. I’d like to thank the Bingen Fire Department that came out 3 more times to put the fire out again every-time it sparked back up. And I’d like to thank the fireman who said that She (the building) was stubborn just like her Mama because it’s true this isn’t going to knock me down, this isn’t my final hour this isn’t even a victory lap this is just the beginning,” added Carr.

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