Del Norte County Community Development Director Heidi Kunstal said Thursday that it’s still unknown who will ultimately clean up what’s left of the old Hollis Market, a neighboring hotel building and a third structure that burned to the ground on May 6.
The fire, which started in the old market, also critically damaged Alta’s Burger Bar and spread to the Bank Tavern across the street. The tavern remains open, although a some windows have been boarded over since the fire.
Del Norte County Sheriff’s Cmdr. Bill Steven said investigators have a suspect in the fire but are currently trying to locate witnesses. No further information was released.
Kunstal said the department is hoping the property owners will work with their insurance companies to clean up the debris. She said a notice of nuisance was sent to the property owners, which will come before county Hearing Officer William Cater, at the Aug. 18 Code Enforcement meeting in the board of supervisors chambers.
Kunstal said some new information will come out at the meeting and that all the property owners have responded except one.
“We’re just waiting on the owners of the pink hotel,” she said.
Code Enforcement Officer Dominic Mello was out of the office until Monday.
County CAO Jay Sarina said testing for hazardous materials like lead paint and asbestos is part of the cleanup procedure. He said code enforcement can do some preliminary testing but a specialist is typically hired to provide an official report. An abatement report for the fire debris areas is pending.
From there, the process will be turned over to an abatement contractor. Specialized contractors will need to be employed if hazardous materials exist.
Sarina said if the property owners do not clean up the debris, it may be up to the taxpayers to do so through an hearing and abatement process.
County code section 7.08.950 states “The owner of the real property shall be liable for the cost of abatement, including the cost of administration, as determined in the enforcement official’s accounting, as confirmed in the decision of the hearing officer. Upon confirmation by the hearing officer, the enforcement official shall cause to be prepared and recorded in the office of the county recorder a notice of lien.”
Sarina said there is a possibility that could happen in this case if the property owner does not take responsibility for the cleanup.
The meeting before code enforcement will take place at the Flynn Center Friday, Aug. 18 at 2 p.m.
Reach Tony Reed at firstname.lastname@example.org