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Sometimes the cause of the fire is never determined

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Investigators say the cause of the fire that gutted the Olympic Hotel in Marysville Sunday may never be determined. State arson and bomb investigator Ken Davidson said Monday the blaze was probably human caused but at the mid-point in the investigation it can't be ruled accidental or intentional.

The fire that started in the Olympic Hotel shortly after 10 a.m. Sunday nearly leveled the two-story, L-shaped building. The hotel, which over the past three years had received numerous citations for health and safety code violations, was to be demolished at the end of this month.

Marysville Fire Capt. Bart Johnson said no monetary damage estimate was available because it is hard to estimate the value of something that is slated to be destroyed.

He said the department has confirmed the building was insured for $843,000.

Davidson said the investigation into Sunday's blaze is complicated by the fact that the building was unsecured and frequently used as shelter by transients, he said.

Cooking utensils and other debris were found in the breezeway at the northwest side of the building where the fire started,
but Davidson said there was no indication that anyone was cooking in that area Sunday.

"There was a lot of fuel load (in the breezeway)," he said. "A lot of stuff that could burn." Davidson spent all of Monday at the scene conducting interviews for his investigation.

The charred remains of the once regal hotel were still smoking Monday afternoon as the previously postponed demolition by H&H Trenching began.

The claw-like extension of a yellow caterpillar, driven by Paul Hawes, began pushing the remaining walls of the old hotel inward at about 1 p.m., the resounding crashes drawing area residents out of their homes to watch from a safe distance.

Thick clouds of dust bathed the sidewalk and curb at the corner of Fourth and I streets as the final section of wall over the
breezeway went crashing forward into the street, snapping a orange and white barricade into two pieces.

Even with the dust, the air was much clearer than it had been 24 hours earlier.

Mike Marcucci, engineer for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection Services station in Marysville, said firefighters remained on the scene throughout the night to ensure it was not disturbed and the fire did not flare up again.

He said the CDF investigates every fire it responds to, but with larger fires, local firefighters do the preliminary investigation
and a fire investigator is called in.

Marcucci said the investigation can take anywhere from an hour to several weeks depending on the building and different
factors involved such as the damage incurred, obvious signs and interviews with witnesses.

In some cases, the cause of the fire is never determined, he said.

Built in 1931, the fire spread easily through the structure which had a continuous, open attic and no fire stops in the walls. Once the flames had reachedthe building's corner at Fourth and Istreets, the attack plan was abandoned byfirefighters for a defensive strategy.

Olympic Hotel owner, Eugene Reggi,returned to the building Monday morning but declined to comment on the fire.

Only one resident remained in the building,which was scheduled to be demolished before July 1. No injuries were reported.
While firefighters from a half-dozen agencies fought the hotel blaze Sunday, another smaller fire was reported at MAPCO Auto Parts store on Fifth Street.


Marysville Fire Capt. Pat Ajuria said the small fire beneath a work bench in an open area at the back of the store wasquickly doused by a Marysville police officer.

There was less than $100 in damagedone, but the fire definitely lookeds uspicious and is under investigation, hesaid.

 
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