Fire was accidental
A cutting torch is the cause of the fire that gutted the downtown historic former Elks building last Monday. Don Temple, a state deputy fire marshal, concluded his investigation Tuesday and the Dickinson Volunteer Fire Department concurred with t...
A cutting torch is the cause of the fire that gutted the downtown historic former Elks building last Monday.
Don Temple, a state deputy fire marshal, concluded his investigation Tuesday and the Dickinson Volunteer Fire Department concurred with the findings.
"For all appearances, and the people we talked to, the cause of the fire was accidental," Dickinson Volunteer Fire Chief Bob Sivak said. "It started in the basement in an area that used to be a freight elevator."
The official investigation concluded the fire started in the northwest corner of the downtown building.
"It's our belief an ember...got into the wooden wall at that point until it smoldered and started the fire later that evening," Sivak said.
Through the investigation, Sivak said it was determined the subcontractors finished working with the cutting torch at about 2:30 p.m. that Monday. Historic Elks building owner Granville "Beaver" Brinkman hired Bismarck-based High Ball Construction to gut the building and install subflooring.
"Even before talking to them, it looked like the cutting operation was the reason for the fire," Sivak said.
Temple said the investigation did not determine when the fire actually broke out. He said the workers left the building at 4:30 p.m.
"It took approximately five hours for it to get to the point where it was noticed," Temple said.
The Dickinson Law Enforcement Center dispatch received a 9-1-1 call reporting the fire at 8:56 p.m. on the Monday of the fire.
Temple said he is in the process of writing the report and from there his work at the fire scene is complete. He said he would be involved as needed, especially as insurance agents begin their round of questioning.
Sivak said the city fire department's work is also nearing completion.
"Anything else is up to the property owner and his insurance company," Sivak said.
Sivak said the street barricades would remain up until the structural engineers determine the building is not dangerous to passersby.
"There has been some communication between the structural engineer and (city officials)," Sivak said. "There are some bracing requirements they would like to see on the third floor."
Sivak said if that is the official determination of the structural engineers, the barricades would stay up until that bracing is in place.
Sivak said he did not know the timeframe for installing any bracing.
Brinkman did not return calls by press time to say whether his structural engineers have made an official recommendation.
Last week, Brinkman said a preliminary report indicated the building could be salvaged. He said engineers from PSC Structural Solutions were putting together a temporary bracing plan.
"The fire only burned a 20-by-20 foot area in the northwest corner into the roof," Brinkman said. "The eastern part of the building, the joints are fine."