BREAKING NEWS – Officials getting ready to search for cause of fire |

BREAKING NEWS – Officials getting ready to search for cause of fire

Galen PehrsonFirefighters battle the fire on North Pine Street
ALL | GrassValleyArchive

Federal and state officials said it will take at least two days to find the cause of a major Nevada City blaze Wednesday afternoon that gutted a quarter-block section of the historic downtown.

U.S. Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Special Agent Steve Carman said most of the evidence of the early morning blaze collapsed in on itself, creating a situation fire marshals will now have to sift through.

ATF and California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection fire marshals were getting ready to begin going through the remains of a theater, restaurant, gift shop and the Nevada County Probation Department office as the fire cooled down about 2 p.m.

The fire was reported at 4:15 a.m., and the first crew from the Nevada City Fire Department arrived four minutes later to the corner of North Pine and Commercial streets. A Nevada City police officer had arrived seconds earlier.

By then, smoke was billowing from a second-floor window in the Probation Department, where records for more 1,200 adult and juvenile offenders are kept.

On the first floor, flames ripped through Friar Tuck’s Restaurant, The Herb Shop and record store in the back of the shop. Also, The Off Broad Street theater suffered extensive heat and water damage.

“Thirty years of our life is in there,” Friar Tuck’s co-owner Greg Cook said as he and his wife, Rona Cook, watched their business go up in flames.

They had owned the restaurant since 1973, and had remodeled it six times since then.

The cooks were among hundreds of people who watched firefighters take on the flames and thick smoke. Many documented the incident with cameras and camcorders.

The emergency response was extensive. Besides Nevada City’s firefighters, Nevada County Consolidated, Grass Valley, Ophir Hill, Peardale-Chicago Park, Placer County Consolidated and the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection responded.

Other crews from Auburn, Colfax, Newcastle and Placer Hills occupied the other agencies’ stations in case of other emergencies. The flames appeared under control by about 8 a.m.

A cause wasn’t immediately known, but there were no known injuries, CDF Unit Chief Tony Clarabut said.

The same building had been struck by fire in the 1960s, several residents said..

“It isn’t the first time Nevada City has burned, but we’re resilient and we’ll rebuild from the ashes, as it were,” Nevada City Mayor Kerry Arnett said.

Chief Probation Office John Wardell said the department has duplicate records in the Nevada County Courthouse. But plans to relocate the department’s roughly 30 workers hadn’t immediately been decided.

Editor’s Note: See this Web site for further updates and photos during the day.

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