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Fire cause still unknown


The cause of the fire that destroyed the Colville Tribes’ administration building July 29 is still unknown, Tribal Police Chief Cory Orr said Tuesday.

Orr said private investigators had been unable as yet to determine a cause and federal investigators from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are continuing the investigation.

The building’s charred remains all collapsed into the basement of the building, leaving a black pile of rubble to sift through. Investigators still have to do that, Orr noted.

He said earlier statements about an electrical cause only meant that the cause could possibly be electrical, not that it was.

“Unfortunately, there’s a lot of speculation right now,” he said.

In an Aug. 1 letter to tribal members, Colville Business Council Chairman Michael O. Finley stated that Public Safety Director Bill Elliott had “provided notification the preliminary investigation indicated the fire was not man caused.” Finley said Elliot was “relatively confident it was an only a horrific accident.”

Finley also said the CBC is pursuing a possible low-interest loan for construction of the already-planned replacement for the building, which would render unnecessary plans to finance the $40 million construction with money received in a $193 million settlement with the federal government.

“Retaining this loan means that no monies from the sustainable fund of the Quam Quampt plan will be used, so it can remain in the bank, accumulating interest,” Finley wrote.

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