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Home arrow News arrow Local News arrow Cause of July fire identified

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Cause of July fire identified

WALLOWA — The fire that destroyed the Bon-Ton Tavern in Wallowa July 30 was determined to have started in the ceiling of the basement, just under the bar.

Paul Karvoski, Wallowa County Emergency Services manager, said the fire started in the center of the basement ceiling, traveled along big timbers east and into the wall.

Karvoski and Joseph Fire Chief Jeff Wecks investigated Wednesday morning, while Moffit Brothers dug out the debris with an excavator.

“All indications are that it started in the ceiling, and we are 90 percent sure it was caused by the wiring,” Karvoski said.

Karvoski said he and Wecks sifted through the rubble for two hours to determine the cause. Their report is being forwarded to the deputy state fire marshal in Pendleton.

As of late Wednesday afternoon, after two days of careful sorting through what was left of the Bon-Ton and all of Roy and Dianne Dornbusch’s belongings, all that survived were a pistol and two rifles.

“That’s what’s left of 67 years,” Roy Dornbusch said.

Despite escaping the blaze with nothing but their Yorkshire Terrier, Rudy, and the clothes on their backs, the Dornbusches remain optimistic.

“Some people have it worse than we do,” said Roy Dornbusch as he and Dianne sat on the sidewalk, watching as the excavator operator, Tommy Hafer, carefully cleared the rubble away from the two adjoining buildings, while others sifted through at the site. and again at a private dump owned by the Moffits.

“The crews have been watching for anything. The whole bunch are super guys,” said Roy Dornbusch. 

Despite looking at the bright side of a disastrous situation, they are frustrated, as well.

“It’s been 44 days since the fire,” said Dianne Dornbusch.

The couple have been staying with friends and left with nothing while waiting for the insurance company to hire an excavator to clear out the rubble in order for a fire inspection to occur. 

The deputy state fire marshal, from Pendleton, was unable to come over this week because of the Pendleton Round-Up, so Karvoski and Wecks conducted the investigation.

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