Norman Call left his home and business in a hurry Tuesday, grabbing his computer, checkbook, register, underwear and a few extra pair of shorts on his way out.
“I didn’t have time to grab any clothes, or anything,” Call said. “I just didn’t have time to grab much. I was too busy shutting things down and locking doors and trying to clean up. Making sure everybody’s gone.”
The Dogwood Motel at Idleyld Park has been in Call’s family for 50 years, since 1970 when his grandparents and parents ran the business. It became a place for fishermen and outdoorsmen to enjoy nature and escape the busyness of daily life.
Call, his customers and neighbors were forced to leave the area Tuesday due to the Archie Creek Fire. He hasn’t been able to go back since, but Thursday he received a little bit of an update through a photo that was shared with him.
“I just saw photos that a fireman took, the three main log cabin structures are still there,” Call said. “The residence to the right of it is totally burned down, it used to be called the Frontier Store. I built a really nice addition in the back for customers, but you can’t see it in the photo. But normally you can see it because it’s a two-story building behind the three (cabins). According to the photo it’s not there, so I think it’s gone.”
The three log cabins were the original Dogwood Motel. All other buildings were added on later and consisted of eight units.
Call also takes great pride in the koi pond and garden he built on the property. He is a koi judge and his pond and garden brought customers and friends to the motel.
“That’s one of my big worries, the koi. I don’t think they’re going to make it without any oxygen,” Call said.
His days now are spent worrying, making lists in his head, talking to insurance agents and waiting until he can go assess the damage for himself.
“I want to go see it,” Call said. “It hurts my heart, you know. All the damage. Because at first they told me everything was burnt down, nothing survived. So it’s quite a relief when some friends of mine, sent me a couple of pictures that a fire fighter took and showed those three buildings were still standing and my flagpole. The flags are still waving.”
Call was a combat photographer for the U.S. Marines in Vietnam. After he was discharged he went to college for two years before starting a graphics reproductions firm. He took over responsibilities at the Dogwood Motel in 1990.
Although the area has had several fires in the last 30 years, Call has never had to evacuate before although there were a few close calls.
Call, who also lives on the property at the Dogwood Motel, said business started as usual on Tuesday morning.
All the rooms were booked, people were checking in and out, and then they started to see smoke.
“We weren’t worried too much about that,” Call said. “And then the wind came up and the next thing we knew we had fire coming over the hill.”
Call got everybody checked out and under the direction of the Oregon State Police everyone left the area.
Call said he could see the fire as he was leaving and it somehow got around him and jumped the river.
When asked what was going through his mind as he left his home and business behind, he chuckled and said, “A lot of swear words.”
He elaborated, “It’s an empty feeling. Especially when you’re out of there and you don’t know how bad it is. What’s gone? That’s a really empty feeling, until they sent me those pictures today.”