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Downriggers fire: what’s next?

By STEVE WEHRLY Islands Sounder Reporter for the Journal of the San Juans
August 31, 2013 · Updated 3:47 PM
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Aftermath of the fire. / Carole Sue Conran photo

The Port of Friday Harbor Commission’s second special meeting about the Downriggers restaurant fire was “second verse same as the first.”

Neither the commission nor Executive Director Marilyn O’Connor had much new information to impart, but the crowd of about 50 (half the number that attended the week before) was more than willing to take up the slack.

Commissioner Mike Ahrenius opined that even though the downstairs is not destroyed, “the property probably can’t be used” until the building is either rebuilt or replaced. The town has informed the Port that the downstairs cannot be occupied for the foreseeable future, if ever.

O’Connor said other insurance adjusters would be inspecting the building in the coming days; Port Attorney Frank Chmelick added that the “replace or rebuild” question could not be answered until insurers declared whether the building would be a total loss.

Neither the commission nor Executive Director Marilyn O’Connor had much new information to impart, but the crowd of about 50 (half the number that attended the week before) was more than willing to take up the slack.

Commissioner Mike Ahrenius opined that even though the downstairs is not destroyed, “the property probably can’t be used” until the building is either rebuilt or replaced. The town has informed the Port that the downstairs cannot be occupied for the foreseeable future, if ever.

O’Connor said other insurance adjusters would be inspecting the building in the coming days; Port Attorney Frank Chmelick added that the “replace or rebuild” question could not be answered until insurers declared whether the building would be a total loss.

On Aug. 30, the port and San Juan Island Fire Rescue released a statement that the fire was deemed not intentionally set.

A team of investigators determined that the cause was an electrical problem within a wall near the kitchen area.

Most vocal at the meeting were Bish Wheeler of Friday Harbor Yachts and Mike Close of Friday Harbor Marine, the two sister companies that occupied most of the floor downstairs from Downriggers.

Wheeler was anxious to move his boat from C-dock to N-dock to use as an office; Close wanted action on his proposal to wire a junction box so that he could use an air compressor to fill dive tanks. Both wanted decisions by the port so that the final six weeks of tourist season could be salvaged.

San Juan Safaris owner Brian Goodremont echoed Wheeler’s comments, saying he “wants exposure equal to what I have now” – and he wants a first right of refusal to move back into whatever replaces the burned structure.

“Some things have been done,” said Close, “but other things could be done now.”

 

 

 

Most vocal were Bish Wheeler of Friday Harbor Yachts and Mike Close of Friday Harbor Marine, the two sister companies that occupied most of the floor downstairs from Downriggers.

Wheeler was anxious to move his boat from C-dock to N-dock to use as an office; Close wanted action on his proposal to wire a junction box so that he could use an air compressor to fill dive tanks. Both wanted decisions by the port so that the final six weeks of tourist season could be salvaged.

San Juan Safaris owner Brian Goodremont echoed Wheeler’s comments, saying he “wants exposure equal to what I have now” – and he wants a first right of refusal to move back into whatever replaces the burned structure.

“Some things have been done,” said Close, “but other things could be done now.”

 

 

 

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