Fire destroys part of Grant County museum, “You cannot replace any of it. It’s impossible.” - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Fire destroys part of Grant County museum, “You cannot replace any of it. It’s impossible.”

Photo courtesy of Raul Harnasch Photo courtesy of Raul Harnasch

EPHRATA, Wash. - 2009 marks the centennial founding of Grant County, Washington. Residents who would have spent the year celebrating their history will instead mark a new chapter in it after fire destroyed part of the area's Historical Museum.

A fire started just after 3 p.m. at the Grant County Historical Museum on Basin Street in downtown Ephrata.

The fire destroyed a large barn and carport that house several antique vehicles and valuable collections, according to museum director Pat Witham.

"It's very important to the history of Grant County, as well as the history of various families," she said.

An oil truck from 1926 and a Model-A car were among the items destroyed by flames on Friday.

"Once history is gone, it's like a thread," said Witham. "It's cut. It's over. It's gone."

Authorities started collecting the items commemorating the history and homestead of the area when the Historical Society was chartered in 1951. The County started operating the facility two decades later, according to Witham.

A news release from Grant County Emergency Management estimates the loss of the collection at "up to $1 million dollars."

One volunteer suffered slight burns to the arms when the fire started. He was taken to the hospital and released, according to Witham.

Fire fighters kept the fire from spreading to other buildings by using a latter truck parked on Basin Street for much of Friday evening.

Witham says the building was insured and they plan to re-build the area; however, many of the items cannot be replaced.

"The mammoth bones were from a wooly mammoth," she said. "It's impossible."

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

The rest of the museum grounds is still open to the public and remains unaffected by the fire.

Anthony Gomes
KHQ Reporter

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