Forks fire cleanup delay due to asbestos woes

By Paul Gottlieb
Peninsula Daily News

FORKS — Bid openings were delayed this week for demolition of the once-iconic, now-charred remains of the International Order of Odd Fellows hall, pushing back site cleanup in the center of downtown to probably after the holiday season.

Confusion over specifications regarding cleanup of asbestos at the site, a former community gathering place for art classes and plays, prompted the rejection of five bids that were opened Monday at City Hall, City Attorney/Planner Rod Fleck said.

The contract award date was moved to Dec. 10 for a cleanup project that could take up to 45 days, Fleck said.

“There was significant confusion with the contractors on an element regarding some old asbestos flooring tiles, laminate tiles,” he said.

“There was enough confusion that it highlighted a disparity in the bids.

“In talking to experts on that, we said, ‘OK, we need to get a clarification to let the folks know what they and the workers can and can’t do.’”

Cleanup could take a few weeks and be completed by New Year’s Day, but that’s unlikely, Fleck said.

“In all likelihood, the earliest you could see us having cleanup is the end of the year, and with all the work being finished, probably by the middle part of January,” he said.

“With some of the costs involved, we want to make sure everyone has the right information and same information when they are bidding.”

The IOOF hall at 35 N. Forks Ave. and the adjacent, vacant former Dazzled by Twilight souvenir store at 61 N. Forks Ave., which also housed Olympic Pharmacy and the Fern Gallery at different times in its history, were destroyed in an early morning Oct. 29 fire during which no one was injured.

The city-owned IOOF hall, which also housed the Rainforest Art Center on the second floor and the Latin American-themed La Tienda store on the first floor, is insured for $3.7 million.

The value of the loss will be determined in about 90 to 120 days, Fleck said.

“We could exceed $3.7 million,” he said.

“We have to work with the insurance company, too, on the cost of the cleanup as part of the overall claim.”

It remains unclear when the former Dazzled by Twilight building owned by Alaska Financial Co. of Anchorage will be leveled and the site prepared for a new occupant.

The company has not given the city much information on its intentions, Fleck said.

“We are going to have to have a conversation with them as to what their plans are,” he added.

Company Vice President Charles Preston would not comment Wednesday on when Alaska Financial might begin cleaning up the site.

The company purchased the site in a foreclosure transaction in June, according to the Clallam County Assessor’s Office.

The operators of La Tienda continue to explore their options, Fleck said.

The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has determined the blaze was not criminal in origin and was caused by an electrical malfunction.

The agency has yet to issue a written report on the blaze, Fleck said.

Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5060, or at

Last modified: November 29. 2012 5:52PM
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