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Fire damage to Public Works mechanic's bay tops $20,000

A fire last month at the Hubbard County Public Works garage caused an estimated $20,000 in damage.

It occurred in the mechanic's bay, possibly caused by a spark from a grinder or combustion that ignited the ceiling.

"They tore down half the roof," said county engineer Dave Olsonawski. "We really don't know what caused it."

The facility had a false wall in it that will be removed.

Fire chief Donn Hoffman said crews used an infrared device that detects heat sources to try to pinpoint the source of the fire.

The ceiling will need replacing. Olsonawski asked for permission to take the low bid and begin the work as quickly as possible.

"The majority will be covered by insurance," he said.

"My biggest concern is not knowing what caused it," county board chair Lyle Robinson said.

Hoffman said a buildup of bat droppings in the ceiling could have built up some energy heat, but said it was more likely a spark that ignited the insulation.

Robinson asked Olsonawski to report back to the board on the repairs.

"I want to make sure we're not doing a big remodeling job," he said. "I'm mostly concerned about the things the insurance company won't cover."

The board also gave the Public Works Department permission to purchase a new culvert steamer.

The steamer, which is in fairly constant use during the spring, will cost around $15,000. Crews use them to unplug frost and ice jams in culverts.

The new one will work like a pressure washer that sprays hot water in two directions.

Sarah Smith

Sarah Smith is the outdoors editor. She covers courts, business and breaking news in addition to outdoors events.

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