By Paul Gottlieb
Peninsula Daily News
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Both the IOOF hall, which was occupied by the Rainforest Art Center on the second floor and the Latin-American-themed La Tienda store on the first floor, and the adjacent vacant store that began as Olympic Pharmacy nine decades ago and later became the Fern Gallery, then Dazzled by Twilight, were destroyed by an early morning fire Oct. 29.
No one was injured in the downtown blaze.
Bids for the expected monthlong cleanup of the city-owned IOOF hall site at 35 N. Forks Ave. will be opened at 12:30 p.m. today and presented to the City Council at its regular meeting at 7:30 p.m. tonight at Forks City Hall, 500 E. Division St.
The City Council may be required to approve the winning bid depending on how high it is, or the city may be able to award a bid if it is low enough to avoid the requirement of council approval, Fleck said.
The private Alaska company that owns the parcel containing the charred remains of the former Dazzled by Twilight souvenir store next door at 61 N. Forks Ave. is proceeding at its own pace, Fleck said.
“I just don't have the ability to say what they are doing,” Fleck said of Alaskan Financial Co. of Anchorage.
But Fleck said the company's insurance adjusters have reviewed the wreckage of what was the vacant souvenir shop.
He expects that by the end of the year, both sites could be ready for redevelopment.
In a telephone interview Wednesday, Alaskan Financial Co. Vice President Charles Preston would not comment on when the site might be demolished.
The Alaskan Financial parcel and the store that occupied it were valued at $201,576, while the IOOF hall was insured for $3.7 million.
The city's insurance will cover demolition, Fleck said.
Fleck said that he expects that in late January or early February, community meetings will be scheduled to discuss “the wants and expectations that people have” on what might replace the IOOF hall, a historic structure in its own right that had become a community gathering place for art classes and theater performances.
The University of Washington, which has its Olympic Natural Resources Center in Forks, and Peninsula College, which also has a facility in the city, have offered help in planning the future of the site, as have arts groups, Fleck said.
“For those of us who have very strong ties to these buildings, hearing those offers of help is pretty cool,” he said.
“Out of the ashes, we're starting to see the Phoenix eggs emerge.
“It's a little early to count on how those eggs are going to hatch, but I think we are all pretty hopeful.”
The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has determined that the blaze that destroyed both wood-frame buildings was non-criminal in origin and was sparked by an electrical malfunction, Clallam County Fire District No. 1 Chief Phil Arbeiter confirmed this week.
Agency spokeswoman Cheryl Bishop said Wednesday she does not know when ATF will release a final report on the blaze, which was reported at 3:45 a.m. Oct. 29 and extinguished by 6:30 a.m.
The fire prompted a four-hour power outage to 1,335 Clallam County Public Utility District customers and the closure of Quillayute Valley School District for the day.
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5060, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.