TONASKET – The building housing Ty Olson Construction, Inc. was a total loss in a fire July 1.
The fire, just south of Tonasket east of Highway 97, started around 5:30 p.m. last Tuesday night and was called in to the Tonasket Fire Department at 5:43. The first police officers were on the scene at 5:45.
The fire apparently started in lumber near the steel-frame building, said area neighbor Ralph Longanecker, who was the first person on the scene and directed traffic away from the several-acre site.
The cause is still under investigation.
“They’re sending out a fire investigator this week,” Ty Olson said. “The story I’ve heard the most, and it’s total speculation, is that because there were four other lightening-caused fires in the area that day – one north of us and three south of us – they think that may be the cause. But again, that’s total speculation.”
Olson said he didn’t know of any power tools, extension cords or other work in the area that day. The fire started in the logs and lumber just south of the main office building.
“It’s a bad stroke of luck,” he said.
Kathy Olson, Ty’s wife, arrived at the site and worked with employees and friends to move office supplies from the fairly new building. Some supplies were fork-lifted over the fence while neighbors hosed down adjoining property and fences to keep the fire from spreading.
Fire department officials left at about 9:30 p.m., said Fire Chief Jim Rice.
The fire department used a front-end loader to move debris away from the charred remains of the building and nearby logs, then hosed it down, Rice said. A crew of Olson’s employees sat through the night to keep any flames from fanning back up.
The shop is open at a temporary site at the Olson home, where Kathy Olson is answering phones. A temporary office should be open this week, she said.
“We’re committed to quality work and take pride in perfection,” Ty Olson said. “We’re still intact and we’ll put this thing back together. Ty Olson Construction is still totally functional and our job sites are still up.”
The worst hit for the company was their log and timber structure building site, Mountain Home, and offices.
“We’ll have to put this back together as we can,” he said, adding that he is not sure when they will be able to rebuild; an insurance investigator must first inspect the site and determine the cause.
The Olson’s appreciated the quick aid of friends, neighbors and employees.
“I’d like to thank everybody who came out to help,” he said. “The people of this area have been good support for us.”
Oroville and Omak both sent fire and ambulance crews in addition to Tonasket’s.
“I’d really like to thank Oroville and Omak for responding,” Fire Chief Rice said.
About 40 firefighters and an EMS crew was on hand at the site. Washington State Patrol and county sheriff’s deputies kept traffic moving on Highway 97 and on Clarkson Mill, which the site leads off from.
The building, located at 146 Clarkson Mill Road south of Tonasket, was a total loss. There were no known injuries at press time. The store phone is still active and forwards to the Olson’s home phone number. The store number is (509) 486-1050.