San Juan County Land Bank is continuing preparations to open a new preserve on the former Glenwood Inn property on Orcas Island in late 2024. In support of this effort, Orcas Island Fire & Rescue (OIF&R) is planning to conduct live fire training in the former residence with approval from state and local agencies.
The decision to remove the dilapidated building follows extensive study and documentation of the cultural and architectural history of the property. Building demolition in the islands is especially costly due to the need to haul debris to mainland landfills; burning the structure is expected to reduce complexity and cost. In preparation, the Land Bank removed usable materials such as doors, windows, siding, and lumber and hired certified professionals to inspect and remove a small amount of asbestos. As with the removal of other buildings from the property last summer, eliminating the house will enable habitat restoration in the core of a future natural area with trails and beach access.
In addition to providing local emergency responders with a valuable training opportunity, burning the structure this winter will support an effort by the Land Bank to transition a barn swallow colony to a new nesting structure upon their return to the island this spring.
OIF&R is preparing to hold the training exercise on Saturday, February 24th. No toxic fire suppression products will be used, and wind conditions will be monitored closely to ensure public safety.