August 14, 2005 in City

N. Monroe still closed at fire site

By The Spokesman-Review
 

A day after fire gutted the three-story Lloyd apartment building, a section of North Monroe Street remained closed indefinitely while Spokane city officials tried to determine if the structure’s upper level of bricks was liable to collapse.

“Right how the danger is that a strong wind could knock down some of that upper level,” said city building official Joe Wizner.

The street, along the 2200 block of North Monroe, will remain closed for the weekend.

“We’re hoping to get two lanes open on Monday morning, but that’s not certain,” said Spokane Fire Marshal Lisa Jones. That would allow one-lane traffic in each direction.

City street officials say 20,000 vehicles normally pass through the four-lane intersection each weekday.

The apartment building at the corner of Mansfield and Monroe was built in 1911 and was occupied by apartment residents on the upper floors and businesses on the ground floor.

The cause of the fire, which was reported about 7:15 p.m. Friday, remains under investigation. It appears to have started in an apartment on the third floor.

No one was injured, but 29 people living in the apartments were displaced; most found shelter through the Spokane Red Cross.

The floors on the second and third levels, made of hardwood, appear to be intact, Jones said.

After bringing in a structural engineer Saturday afternoon, Jones, Wizner and property owner Mark Agee fashioned a three-step plan to make the walls more sturdy.

Agee has hired a crane to knock off the upper two feet of loose brick left unsteady due to the roof damage.

Then crane operators will scoop out some debris and bricks that have fallen onto the third-floor hallways and rooms, creating extra weight and adding to the risk of collapse.

If the third floor is still stable, Agee will then have workers brace the upper level of brick walls.

Officials are keeping displaced tenants and business owners from going back into the building.

Three businesses occupied most of the main level in the building. Owners of two of those businesses – a karate school and a property brokerage – said they had no insurance.

“I just didn’t see any reason to pay hundreds of dollars per month for fire insurance, when all I had was a lot of personal items and floor mats,” said Ron Bledsoe, owner of Ron Bledsoe’s Karate Academy. He figures he lost $6,000 of equipment and personal items.

Gary Larson, who moved his business, New Horizon Property, into the Lloyd in April, was also uninsured. Larson estimated his loss at $5,000.

The third business damaged is the Hi-Neighbor Tavern. Its two owners could not be reached Saturday.

Agee said he doesn’t know the replacement cost of the building.

One of his tenants, 21-year-old Kalynn Cook, said she got out of her third-floor apartment with a 14-day-old daughter, her 5-year-old son and her fiancée “within seconds” and ended up losing everything that was left behind.

Her fiancée, Brian Parr, ran back in and got a blanket for their infant daughter because she was still in diapers, Cook said.

She had no renter’s insurance. “I’ve learned a lesson. I won’t do that again,” she said.

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