Bit by bit, crews raze NC building |

Bit by bit, crews raze NC building

John HartA Robinson Enterprises crew demolishes the Commercial Street side of the Elks Building in Nevada City Thursday.
ALL | GrassValleyArchive

A crew pecked at the wall of the former Elks Building Thursday as fire insurance investigators continued to look into last week’s blaze, which gutted the historic landmark at the corner of North Pine and Commercial streets.

By the end of the day, the upper section of the wall along Commercial and North Pine was gone. Left standing was a window facing North Pine.

Throughout the day, a crane operator from Robinson Enterprises Inc. of Nevada City chipped away at the upper section of the wall built in 1912, stopping intermittently to allow investigators to enter the building. At least two hot spots had to be put out Thursday.

Don Hoffler, who led the Robinson crew, said the walls have to come down for safety reasons. He and his crew could haul off the rubble today, he said.

“Investigators are still working, so we have a limited area we can work in,” Hoffler said. Insurance investigators are checking the laundry room area in the back of the building, he said earlier in the day.

The 18,000-square-foot building housed the Nevada County Probation Department and the county’s Victim/Witness Program on the second floor, and Friar Tuck’s Restaurant & Bar, the Herb Shop and Herb Shop record store and deli on the first floor.

The March 20 fire was initially investigated by city, county, state and federal officials. They narrowed the origin of the fire to the laundry room of Friar Tuck’s, Nevada City Police Lt. Lorin Gage said Tuesday. No cause was given.

City Engineer Bill Falconi said Thursday numerous insurance investigators were present at the site.

“They seem to multiply,” he said a little after 2 p.m., as a group gathered on Commercial Street.

In the meantime, Nancy Bouffiou, owner of the Herb Shop Deli, said she does not yet know how much the fire has cost her.

Her insurance policy was for only $12,000, she said.

“Darn it,” she said. “When something like that happens, (that’s when) you find out you’re under-insured.”

But the community is awesome, she said. Customers have called her, she said. “That was pretty cool.”

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