PORT ANGELES — The Port Angeles Visitor Center was open for business as usual Wednesday after a fire was discovered under the floor near the rear door to the building at 121 E. Railroad Ave. on Tuesday afternoon.
The building was evacuated shortly before 5 p.m. when employees smelled smoke and haze began to drift through the structure. Flames were spotted through a gap between the floor and the sidewalk outside, triggering a general alarm by the Port Angeles Fire Department, which sent three fire engines and two ambulances.
The 100 block of East Railroad Avenue was blocked for a time by hoses and fire equipment.
Firefighters were forced to rip up a 2-foot-by-3-foot section of floor to get to the blaze, which was quickly extinguished.
Fire department Lt. Jeremy Church said no source of ignition could be found but something was apparently smoldering in the sub-flooring and was likely fanned by strong westerly breezes Tuesday afternoon.
Marc Abshire, Port Angeles Chamber of Commerce executive director — who maintains an office in the center — said damage was confined to the flooring that had to be removed by firefighters. He had no estimate of repair costs, but said they would probably be minimal.
Other than a light smell of burned wood near the rear of the building Wednesday, most visitors would probably not notice that there had been a fire the day before, he said.
Abshire speculated that an errant cigarette might have been the source of ignition.
He said it was fortunate that the fire was discovered while there were still people in the building to notice the smoke and to call for firefighters before the blaze could spread.