FRIDAY HARBOR, Wash. - Fire crews have controlled Thursday morning's fire in downtown Friday Harbor on San Juan Island, now they are trying to salvage what they can to find out what caused the fire.
According to the Public Information Officer, six structures were damaged-- three of deemed a total loss. Multiple businesses nearby remain closed due to smoke damage. It's unclear how many businesses are closed due to smoke.
An early investigation indicates that there is already $10 million in damages sustained.
The block of First Street and Spring Street adjacent to the site will remain closed to vehicles during their investigation which is expected to take three to five days. Front Street will be opened temporarily to two-way traffic.
"The public may rest assured the Town, County, and emergency responders are executing a plan to expedite the investigation and reopening of streets and neighboring businesses," said Town Administrator Denice Kulseth. "For your safety and that of the those protecting and inspecting the site, please do not enter adjacent buildings and rooftops as the integrity of those buildings has likely been affected by the intense heat."
Authorities say three to four buildings were involved in this fire. Some of the businesses that have been damaged by the fire include; Crows Nest Coffee Shoppe, Herb’s Tavern, Crystal Seas Kayaking and Windermere Real Estate offices.
"I’m heartbroken, when the first wall came down, I just sat there and cried," said resident Dawn Haines.
Haines told FOX 13 News her first bartending job was at Herb's Tavern. "There [was] a bell to ring and swinging wood doors. It had character," she said.
"A lot of my history just went away," said resident Tori Roberts.
"It’s just really, they are such mainstays. When you are driving up off the ferry, it’s the first thing you see is all those old buildings on the right side of the street when you come into town. So it’s just really tragic that that happened," said Becki Day, Executive Director of San Juan Island Chamber of Commerce.
Some buildings impacted by the fire were built in the late 1800s, the oldest being built in 1809.
Two buildings are a complete loss, but crews are trying to preserve the building in the center. Investigators believe the fire started in the center building, so they are preserving it for investigative purposes. One of the nearby buildings survived the fire, but was damaged by smoke and heat.
The cause of the fire is still unknown. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) is handling the investigation, primarily due to the magnitude of the fire. At this time, there is no evidence that points to the fire being suspicious.
There are no reported injuries, and no reports of anyone inside the buildings during the fire.
The cause of the fire is still unknown.
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