Fire investigators are now sifting through the rubble of Kerr’s Apartments after the rear of the century-old building was knocked down Saturday morning.
“We’re removing debris and the fire department is working its way through slowly,” demolition contractor Mike McNally said Monday. “This could take two days or more. Then it will be a matter of insurance and the owner deciding where it’s going.”
The back wall, badly damaged by a January fire, was considered unstable and taken down, although the remaining three walls still stand. The blaze began in the basement, but until now it has been impossible to get at the origin point to determine the cause.
“Nothing’s going to be hauled away until the fire inspection’s done,” McNally says. “It’s been contained with 24-hour security since the walls were breached. The insurance people are here snapping pictures and trying to see if there’s any evidence of the origin. They’ve got it contained to a very small area.”
McNally says what’s left of the building will likely remain standing at least until the weekend, pending hazardous material assessments, “so we’re not creating dust that could affect the community. If it takes a week for the samples to come back, that’s what it takes.”
Furthermore, he says they are trying to avoid inconveniencing employees at the B.C. Assessment Authority a few doors down, “or if they do need a little more [knocked] down for the safety of the investigation, we would do it after hours.”
McNally says the debris will be left on site for the moment: “We’re actually hauling in — sand to protect the alley and fill to buttress the sides.”
Whether portions of the building can be saved and renovated remains an open question. McNally says it’s up to the owner to decide whether it makes financial sense. “I can’t speculate for anybody,” he says.
Deputy fire chief Bob Slade was busy on scene Monday, while owner Armand Olender didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.