Investigators can’t determine exact cause of Nov. 8 fatal fire
EVERETT - Fire investigators cannot determine the cause of the fatal Nov. 8 downtown fire.
“We were not able to determine the precise cause of the fire because we discovered multiple items in the area where the fire started that could have contributed to the blaze,” Everett Fire Marshal Rick Robinson said. “There’s no indication that the fire was of suspicious origin.”
They believe it started in the unit where investigators located the body of 61-year-old Michael Beard of Everett. The Snohomish County medical examiner’s office determined he died of smoke inhalation.
The fire destroyed the historic McCrossen Building at 1820 Hewitt Ave., which must be torn down or replaced. The city previously gave a deadline of Dec. 6 for demolishing the 1898 building. Investigators estimate the loss of the building, which is condemned, at $1 million.
The building owner cannot turn the lot into a parking garage despite being in a prime location across from Comcast Arena. Everett’s code prohibits building parking lots at certain street corners downtown, planning director Allan Giffen said last week.
The building next door at 1812 Hewitt Ave. also is affected. Because of turn-of-the-century construction standards, the building next door piggybacks the McCrossen Building’s wall in its construction, code enforcement supervisor Kevin Fagerstrom said.
If the McCrossen Building is torn down, the 1812 Hewitt building will be missing its eastward wall after demolition.
The 1812 Hewitt Ave. building is stable but was heavily damaged by smoke damage and water, Fagerstrom said. Businesses were allowed to collect their belongings.
McCrossen Building tenants still cannot get their things.
“No one can justify the risk to human life to go in and recover items” at 1820 Hewitt Ave., Fagerstrom said. Boards now cover the first floor storefront windows. The city is working out ideas how businessowners can collect their things during demolition, he said.
More than 40 tenants in the McCrossen Building were displaced from the fire. The top two levels of the building were torn apart shortly after the fire as a safety precaution.
Last month City Councilwoman Brenda Stonecipher called for a report on how effectively 2007 fire safety codes have been implemented. Robinson will present a report before council next week.
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