Fire’s cause may take weeks to learn
Councilwoman asks for building fire safety report EVERETT - It could take weeks before the mess is cleaned up and fire officials determine the cause of the Nov. 8 downtown fire that killed one man.
The man who died in the fire was identified last week as Michael Beard, 61, from Everett. Beard died of smoke inhalation, according to the Snohomish County Medical Examiner’s Office.
Investigators are still determining the cause of the fire. In addition, Everett City Councilwoman Brenda Stonecipher has asked for a report on how many buildings are meeting tougher fire safety regulations the city mandated five years ago.
In 2007, the city adopted tougher fire safety regulations requiring property owners to make the necessary upgrades.
The Fire Department will present a report at the council’s Dec. 12 meeting.
“A lot of these older buildings are used to provide low income and, in my opinion, substandard housing,” Stonecipher said.
She noted last year’s Strand Hotel fire on Colby Avenue, where most of the upstairs tenants were low-income residents. The Strand Hotel is a historic building and did not have fire sprinklers.
The three-alarm fire Nov. 8 destroyed the historic McCrossen Building at Hewitt and Oakes avenues and displaced more than 30 people. The building is a total loss with damages estimated at more than $1 million.
The city set up a message hot line last week for people to leave questions about the fire. The number is 425-257-7011.
The city is dealing with multiple factors that could prolong the investigation, including building owner Pete Sikov being out of the country.
The city condemned the building last week and is requiring it be demolished by Dec. 6. The deadline could be extended into early next year, chief administrative assistant Debra Bryant said.
“We don’t have a lot of confidence we have a property owner who will take care of it without pushing,” Bryant said.
Sikov’s insurance company hired a structural engineer to assist with handling the gutted building, city attorney Jim Iles said.
Hat Trick Pizzeria and Grill owners Bob and Mel Gray are frustrated with the process. The fire closed down their restaurant, the Spare Room vintage shop and a design firm on the first floor.
Bob Gray spoke out before the City Council last week with more than a dozen supporters in attendance.
The Grays want into the building to start their own insurance claim, but Sikov’s insurance company isn’t giving them any answers. Instead, they’re getting bounced between Sikov’s insurance company and the city, Bob Gray said.
“I feel like we’re getting caught in the middle,” Bob Gray said.
He told the council he wasn’t surprised a fire started in the building.
“When I got that call that night, I wasn’t surprised a fire started upstairs,” Bob Gray said.
The building next door at 1812 Hewitt is tagged for people to stay away as investigators need to determine if it is structurally sound. The building houses numerous law offices, an architecture firm and an insurance company. Tenants were allowed to retrieve their belongings last week.
About 97 firefighters from Everett and surrounding fire departments fought the fire.
The Snohomish County Chapter of the American Red Cross sheltered, fed and assisted a number of the families affected by the Nov. 8 fire.
To help the victims of the fire, go to www.snohomishcounty.redcross.org.