Possible arson destroys Cedar Shack drive-in

Sean C. Morgan

The Cedar Shack, a Sweet Home landmark, where truck drivers could place their order over a CB radio and have it waiting, was nearly destroyed Friday morning when a burglar may have set a fire to cover the burglary.

“Essentially, the old pizza shack building was fully involved in fire when we arrived,” Fire Chief Mike Beaver said. “Flames were starting to impinge on the restaurant section of it.”

“We were notified by the fire department that the business owners had found items missing, which raised the possibility that the fire had been started in order to conceal a burglary,” Police Chief Bob Burford said.

The area destroyed in the fire was built in 1971 and housed manager Jan Hufford Wilson’s office. Hufford Wilson’s Girl Scout troop also met there, and it had extra seating. The fire caused smoke and heat damage to the front restaurant section, which was built in 1965.

The fire burned the siding and soffits on the back of the restaurant, Chief Beaver said. That building can probably be cleaned up and used again.

Chief Beaver estimated damage at $75,000 to $100,000. The building was insured.

The business is owned by Tom and Mardy Hufford and managed by Hufford Wilson.

The insurance investigation could take up to one month, Annamarie Wilson, an employee, said, so it could be November before cleanup begins.

“We plan to rebuild,” Hufford Wilson said.

Hufford Wilson went to work in the restaurant when it opened.

“I wasn’t very old, but I could sack fries,” Hufford Wilson said. “All they would let me do was sack French fries, which I hated because I wanted to work the window.”

Hufford Wilson has worked in the restaurant since then.

“I don’t know what to do,” Hufford Wilson said. “I always got up and came down here.”

The part that burned used to be a pizza parlor, Wilson said. “That was Teddy’s (Hufford) brilliant creation. He wanted to make pizzas.”

Hufford Wilson was gearing up to start promoting pizza and a movie. The fire destroyed videos and new pizza oven.

The restaurant employed about 10 persons, mostly family, Wilson said.

“That place is kind of a landmark in Sweet Home,” Chief Beaver said. “It opened up in the ’60s. Everyone knows where the Cedar Shack is.? and it (the fire) put some more people out of work.”

The Hufford family, long in the logging industry, offered specialty menus such as the Chipper Burger or, after the timber decline of the 1990s, the Spotted Owl Burger.

Twenty-eight firefighters responded to the fire with four engines and three support vehicles.

“There were no unusual circumstances as far as extinguishing the fire,” Chief Beaver said. The first engine put a 2.5-inch hose on the blaze, and the second connected to a hydrant to work on the fire.

Firefighters concentrated on protecting the restaurant building, Chief Beaver said. “It was definitely a defensive attack.”

The fire was the second last week when the Lester shingle mill was destroyed in an arson.

A few jobs here and there adds up, Chief Beaver said. Firefighters’ hectic week also took its toll.

“We had super good response on both of the fires,” Chief Beaver said. “I think we’ve done a pretty good job extinguishing the fires;” but the firefighters are tired, and it shows in their faces.

Chief Beaver planned on giving them a break for Monday night’s drill. Instead of drilling, the firefighters spent the time critiquing their response to the two fires.