Ranger station in Oregon rebuilt after '96 arson

OAKRIDGE, Ore. - U.S. Forest Service employees are preparing to move into a ranger station rebuilt after arsonists destroyed their old building four years ago.

The $4 million, two-story Oakridge Ranger Station, which incorporates exposed beams and rock reminiscent of the Forest Service and National Park Service buildings of the 1930s, is nearly complete.

"There's a silver lining in every dark cloud. I think we're about to get that silver lining," said Rick Scott, ranger for the Middle Fork Ranger District.

The 27,000-square-foot building, about two miles west of Oakridge, stands on the site of a 1996 fire that caused an estimated $9 million in damage to the ranger station.

Most of the district's records and documents about experiments and environmental-monitoring projects were destroyed in the blaze.

The fire occurred two days after someone torched a pickup and spray-painted "Earth Liberation Front" and anti-logging messages on the walls of the Willamette National Forest's Detroit Ranger Station, east of Salem.

No one has claimed responsibility for the Oct. 30, 1996, Oakridge fire.

The FBI and other federal and state law-enforcement agencies haven't charged or arrested anyone in the Oakridge arson.

Congress appropriated $4 million to rebuild the station in 1998.

Forest Service employees have been working out of the old Rigdon office at the eastern edge of Oakridge since the fire.

The district expects to start moving furniture into the new building by mid-August.