EAST OLYMPIA, Wash. – A second-generation family business went up in flames late Saturday night, destroying a building and thousands of dollars of merchandise.
Johnson’s Smokehouse employs dozens of people in the East Olympia community and has been in business for 36 years.
“About a half mile out I could see the orange glow,” said Josh Johnson. “Words can’t describe what I had seen.”
The fire burned hot and fast late Saturday night and when the sun came up Sunday morning, the reality struck – nearly everything the Johnson family has been building for decades was gone.
“It’s just so sad to see it all go up like this,” said Jody Eygabroad.
“The fire guys did what they could do but it just got too hot too fast and they couldn’t stop it,” said Johnson.
What began in the early 80’s as a fledgling company smoking beef, pork and wild game has turned into a Pacific Northwest staple reaching five states. But today all that’s left standing is the charred ruins of a family’s dream.
“Complete disarray,” said Johnson, “A nightmare.”
“The front of this my dad built with logs off of the property in the 80’s,” said Eygabroad. “So, it’s just really hard.”
By Monday, employees tried salvaging what they could.
But what’s stood out for the Johnson family is the outpouring of support they’re getting from the same community they have been serving for decades.
“The love and the people stopping by, we feel so full,” said Jody.
“We knew we made a good product, but we didn’t know we had the support,” said Josh.
Local fire officials tell Q13 News the cause of the blaze remains under investigation.
For the dozens of employees whose future paychecks could be in limbo, the Johnson family vows to stay a part of Thurston County for at least another 36 years.
“We want to rebuild, and we want our 29 employees to have their jobs here when they get back and when we get back,” said Jody. “We will come back from this.”
“It’s touching to know there’s that many warm hearts out there that want to help us,” said Josh.