Demolition of downtown fire site to begin before Christmas

Demolition and removal is soon to begin for the debris from the downtown Forks fire of Oct. 29.

At their Monday evening, Dec. 10 meeting, the Forks City Council approved a bid of about $45,000 from Darrel Gaydeski’s D&H Enterprises to clear debris from the City of Forks side of the site.

The early-morning fire totally gutted the City of Forks-owned historic circa 1925 International Order of Odd Fellows hall and the adjacent Olympic Pharmacy building located on the corner of Division St. and Forks Ave.

The highest bid for the job was about $97,000.

Beaver-based construction consultant Jerry Schlie served as a spokesperson for the city, giving a presentation at the meeting regarding the bids and bidding process.

Schlie said Gaydeski is an owner-operator and can provide a lower cost in part due to not having to pay prevailing wages, as required for workers hired to do the clean up, in the bid specifications,  for his own work on the project.

The city had rejected bids for the job at its last meeting  held in late November due in part to needing more information on disposing of the asbestos debris. Subsequently, an asbestos removal consultant inspected the site. Class 2 asbestos – the type found in older floor tiles and ceiling panels – is present at the debris site, and must be disposed of at a landfill certified to handle such materials. The percentage of debris tha can be recycled affects the cost of the cleanup.

In an earlier news report, City of Forks Attorney/Planner Rod Fleck said that the work could begin in about a week from the council accepting the bid, and that the site should be cleared by mid-January.

Investigators reported that a non-suspicious electrical short in a conduit box at the rear of the IOOF building set the fire. There were no injuries due to the fire.

La Tienda, the Latino food and general merchandise store located on the first floor of the IOOF hall has relocated to a space in the Almar Building on Bogachiel Way. The commercial space was formerly occupied by the state Department of Licensing office, which was relocated to the state Department of Health and Human Services building located on Bogachiel Way near Forks Community Hospital.

The second floor of the IOOF hall was used by the Rainforest Arts Center to stage plays put on by the Rainforest Players. Costumes and sets from the acting troupe were stored in the building and destroyed by the fire, along with stage and sound equipment. Ten of thousands of dollars in improvements were made to the hall by the RAC over the past several years including new HVAC equipment and reroofing work.

The Olympic Pharmacy building was shuttered, last used by the Dazzled by Twilight store, which has been closed for over one year. 

The former pharmacy building is owned by Alaska Financial Co. of Anchorage. The firm announced last week that their side of the fire debris site will be cleared at the same time as the IOOF hall side. The firm bought the building in a foreclosure sale.

The City of Forks holds some $3.7 million in insurance on the IOOF hall. Community members have been writing letters to the Forks Forum suggesting redesigns for the building space, and lobbying to have the RAC theater rebuilt.

Security guards keeping an eye on the site are now working from the ICN Building on Spartan Ave. 

Olympic Region Clean Air Ageny permits are in the works for the project, Fleck told the council Monday. 

He said the contract with the city will also be sent to the city’s insurer for the IOOF building for approval.

A wake of sorts for the IOOF hall is scheduled for January, where Forks residents are being invited to recall stories about the hall. The West End Historical Society held a meeting Tuesday where society members and community members were asked to bring photos and stories about the two destroyed buildings.

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