Historic Oak Creek Lodge to 'open soon', says owner after Slide Fire forced evacuation

Oak Creek Canyon, AZ - The fury of the slide fire threatened the popular and historical Garland’s Oak Creek Lodge as it swept up through Oak Creek Canyon.

Mary Garland who owns the favorite tourist destination with her husband Gary Garland said they first noticed the smoke around 4 p.m Tuesday as they were setting up for their guests' afternoon tea.

At first she thought it might have been left over embers from the night before, but one look at the sky told her this fire was not at their lodge and it appeared serious.

“We were very worried, very, very worried. Yes, we've been through fires before but this seemed very different and very rapidly moving and there were gusty winds,”  said Garland.

Garland says they began notifying their guests of the possibility that they may be evacuated.  Five minutes later, fire crews were on site telling them to evacuate now.

All of the guests were cooperative and left quickly, but Garland said there were a couple of hitches.

One guest was out hiking and they weren’t able to locate him until everyone got into town where they had cell phone coverage.

Another guest from North Carolina had no vehicle to leave in.

Garland said another guest gave him a ride into town where family took him in for the night until he could fly home Wednesday.

Gary Garland stayed behind to help save the lodge. The former volunteer firefighter had taken every precaution possible to prevent a wildfire from reaching their beloved lodge.

Mary told ABC15 Gary often clears dead wood and brush and waters often to keep the property as green as possible.

“The fact that we maintained fire lines definitely helped. You know we have extra hoses and equipment in the event of a fire. I'm not sure how many of those were used, but he was allowed to stay and work with the fire crews since he knows where all the faucets, hoses and etc. are," she said.

When Mary last heard from Gary, all was well at the lodge and the fire was now moving north towards Flagstaff.

According to the lodge’s website, a portion of Garland’s Oak Creek Lodge was built in 1908 from fallen pines on the property.

By the late 1920’s, the Lodge was purchased by Frank and Catherine Todd.   Back then the lodge was famous for its delicious fried chicken.

In 1972, the Garland Family purchased the lodge as a “family project”, adding their own incredible pie recipes to the kitchen’s cuisine.

Mary Garland posted on Facebook , the family hopes to re-open the lodge within a week, and possibly by Memorial Day weekend.

“We will be open soon,” assured Garland.

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