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Gresham Chamber hub, Walker Travel shared building at 1005 N. Main Ave. damaged by alleged arson

PMG PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER KEIZUR - The Gresham Area Chamber of Commerce, Walker Travel and Cruises shared building was damaged by a fire in the early morning hours Monday, Jan. 24. Gresham residents woke to to the news this morning that the Gresham Area Chamber of Commerce office and Walker Travel and Cruises Building was severely damaged — if not a complete loss — by a structure fire that is being investigated by the Gresham Police Department.

"This is devastating to both the Chamber and Walker Travel," said Lynn Snodgrass, outgoing CEO of the Chamber. "We all work together, share the same kitchen and facilities, this was our home."

The blaze occurred around 2 to 3 a.m. Monday, Jan. 24, at the shared space, 1005 N. Main Ave., across from Gresham High School. Chamber officials said an individual was taken into custody around the time the fire was reported on suspicion of arson.

The majority of damage was centered around the main entrance to the building, fronting Main Avenue, while the back half was relatively unscathed other than smoke, soot and water damage.

Gresham Chamber had this to say on its Facebook page this morning:

"Sad day today. We woke up this morning to find out our building caught fire. We are still working on a short and long term plan and how to move forward. In the meantime please keep us and Walker Travel in your thoughts and prayers. We will share information as it becomes available."

Walker Travel and Cruises is one of the oldest retail travel agencies in Oregon, founded in 1927, and the building at the prominent Gresham corner had long been a staple of the business community. Doug Walker is a third-generation owner.

His main offices were in the second floor of the building, and it is unknown the extent of the damage.

Snodgrass is confident the Chamber will be able to continue its mission of serving the community. They lost hardware and equipment — like computers and telephones — but none of the data or checks were lost in the blaze.

The next step is for the Chamber to find a new location to set up shop.

"The Chamber is its members, so this is just a bit of a speed bump for us," Snodgrass said.

The Outlook is covering this story and will provide an update as soon as possible.


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