SANDPOINT, Idaho - A fire that destroyed two buildings in downtown Sandpoint and heavily damaged a third has been ruled accidental. However the cause remains undetermined.
The City of Sandpoint announced that the investigation into the February fire concluded at about 4:00 p.m. Friday, April 12.
Investigators believe the fire started in the basement between the lower level ceiling and first level floor of the building that stood at 202 First Avenue. The point of origin is believed to be at the wall between the Chocolate Bear and the former Ol Red's Pub.
"As we cleared the debris in the basement of 202, the point of origin became clear when we found the glass door to Ol Red's intact. That became a real game changer," Deputy Fire Marshal Jason Blubaum said.
Heavy equipment used in the investigation will remain at the site through Monday, April 15 when contractors will haul away the remaining debris from the building and the excavator.
According to Sandpoint Mayor Shelby Rognstad, the city remains committed to returning downtown to as normal as possible as quickly as possible.
The city will push back fencing on Monday to open up as much of the drive lanes on Bridge Street and First Avenue as possible. The sidewalks along the streets will remain closed.
The total estimated loss is in excess of $4 million, according to the city.