Historic Galice Resort in Merlin goes up in flames, destroying 4 decades of memories

MERLIN, Ore. —Firefighters fight to save a historic Merlin resort, as it goes up in flames. The fire started at the Galice Resort building Tuesday morning and quickly spread to the wildland.

The resort that has been serving the community for over 4 decades is now burnt to the ground. Community members say they don’t know what will come next.

“I would say the building is a total loss,” said Jes Webb with Rural Metro Fire.

The Galice Resort, a hotspot for all things, rafting, music, and hot meals, in Merlin, is now mostly gone.  The resort was open mid-morning Tuesday when we’re told workers saw smoke and quickly evacuated.

“They smelled smoke and saw a haze of smoke in the building, they started to evacuate the building, and as soon as the last people were leaving the building there was fire coming through the floor,” said Webb.

At 10:30 a.m., Rural Metro Fire responded to the structure fire, which soon became a two-alarm fire. That calls for additional resources from other local fire departments.

“We went into action to try and keep it contained to the building and make sure it wasn’t spreading because we’re on a steep hill here and once it gets going it’s hard to stop,” said Webb.

Grants Pass Fire-Rescue, Rogue River Fire District, and Oregon Department of Forestry also joined in the effort to contain the flames, and save the building. Five ODF engines, a type 2 helicopter, and an air attack plane were all called in to help. Firefighters say the helicopter did 20 bucket drops to douse the flames.

“There was a threat to have that fire spread to wildland and to kind of spark off a little bit and it did, there ended up being around 5 spot fires in and around the area, so we did respond to those and put those out as quickly as possible,” said Natalie Weber with ODF.

The main building which holds both the store, kitchen, restaurant, and its patio was completely destroyed. Nobody was hurt in the fire. The cabin rentals just above the property were not harmed. The boat rental area remains intact as well.

“My understanding was staff actually went back to the garage portion of the building that was not burning, and they were able to pull away all the rafts and oars and a lot of the equipment that they use for raft rentals,” said Webb.

Despite that bit of good news, Tuesday’s shocking fire at one of Merlin’s iconic locations will leave a hole in the community.

“It’s a great place to come and meet friends up here before you go on a river rafting trip, and get your gear, it means a lot to the community,” said Russell Romero, Rogue River resident.

The cause is still under investigation. The owners of the resort declined an on-camera interview.

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Jenna King is the 6pm anchor and our Feature Reporter at 10pm and 11pm for NBC5 News. Jenna is a Burbank, CA native. She graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in Broadcast Journalism and a minor in Sports Business. During her time at Oregon she was part of the student-run television station, Duck TV. She also grew her passion for sports through her internship with the PAC 12 Network. When Jenna is not in the newsroom you can find her rooting for her hometown Dodgers, exploring the outdoors or binging on the latest Netflix release.
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