OLYMPIA - Though court records say initial damage estimates exceed $500,000 for an alleged July 8 arson at City Hall, a city official says it will be two to three weeks before the city has a firm idea of the damage and delay to the project.
“Primarily, most of the damage is soot- and smoke-related, mostly on the first and second floors, but we’re still assessing how broad … the smoke damage got,” said Jay Burney, assistant city manager for special projects. “It’s going to be about two weeks before we have a firm handle as far as cost and schedule impacts.”
Burney said work is “definitely delayed” on the four-story, $35.6 million project that is rising at 609 Fourth Ave. E. Crews that would have been framing interior offices, painting, and installing ceilings and lighting aren’t able to. He said some work is continuing on the third and fourth floors.
City Manager Steve Hall said contractors and subcontractors have to sort through which items can be cleaned, repaired or replaced, and how insurance claims will be processed. An estimate probably is a couple of weeks away, he said.
“It gets really complicated,” Hall said. For example, “while some of the electrical wiring to the building could be cleaned, if we use water-based cleaning products, it invalidates the warranty.”
Joshua A. Stacy, 20, was charged with two counts of second-degree arson and two counts of second-degree burglary for allegedly setting the City Hall fire and another small fire on the site a day earlier.
According to charging documents:
The suspect scaled a security fence at the west end of an alleyway early July 7 and poured camp fuel under a construction trailer. The fire caused minor damage to the siding on the trailer.
The following morning, the suspect entered the site through an unsecured exterior door, spray-painted words on the hallway and set the contents of a room on fire, apparently using camp fuel.
Police said they were led to Stacy through a global positioning system tracking device that he is required to wear because he is a transient Level 3 sex offender. Records showed he had been in the area of the construction site or the adjacent alley multiple times during the arsons and burglaries.
Hall said he has been given a “wild” range of damage estimates.
“I’d like to know, but I told them I’d like a good number rather than a fast number,” he said.
Burney had some hope that crews could catch up. The project was on track for being complete by January before the fire, but now Burney said he’s not so sure.
“It’s just too early,” he said.
Matt Batcheldor: 360-704-6869 firstname.lastname@example.org