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Cause of Superior warehouse fire remains unknown

The Jan. 6 fire destroyed two vacant, historic buildings.

Bayside Warehouse
The shell of the Bayside Warehouse building remains standing Jan. 14, 2022, more than a week after a fire gutted it. The front facade of the building may be sound enough to be preserved.
Maria Lockwood / Superior Telegram

A week after a fire ripped through two historic warehouse buildings on Superior’s waterfront, the cause of the blaze remains unknown.

“We don’t know the cause of the fire and I don’t know if we will ever know,” Fire Chief Scott Gordon said Jan. 13, one week after fire crews battled the large-scale fire along North First Street.

Two buildings were lost in the fire.

The investigators’ report had not yet been filed, meaning information was still pending. Gordon said if investigators haven’t come up with a cause within the next week, “I would suspect they will deem it undetermined.”

A timeline of the fires is being pieced together, but has yet to be released.

Fire broke out in the Sivertson building at 1507 North First St. the morning of Jan. 6. Gordon said it spread to the next-door Bayside Warehouse, also known as the Twohy Mercantile Building, through radiant heat. Both buildings were vacant, but being used for storage.

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No injuries or fatalities were reported.

By Jan. 14, what was left of the Sivertson building had been torn down. The shell of the Bayside Building remained standing, coated in ice and flanked by piles of brick. Both buildings have been released back to the owners.

“What we deemed was going to fall over quickly, they demolished that,” Gordon said. “They pushed it all into the building and cleaned up all the bricks and put those into the buildings.”

The Sivertson warehouse is gone, but the Bayside building may not be a complete loss.

“It looks like it’s potentially possible we could preserve the facade, at least, up to about the second-story windows,” said Miles Ringsred, legal representative and son of the building’s owner, Eric Ringsred.

Bayside Warehouse 2
The shell of the Bayside Warehouse building remains standing Jan. 14, 2022, more than a week after a fire gutted it. The front facade of the building may be sound enough to be preserved.
Maria Lockwood / Superior Telegram

Ringsred said they are working with a structural firm to explore the possibility of saving the facade and building new, or backfilling, behind it. They have a relatively short time frame to decide, about six weeks.

“We’re doing everything we can to get the necessary information so we can make the best decisions moving forward,” Ringsred said.

It’s a possibility that has public support.

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“The mayor has not been shy about saying that he would like to keep something of that building to keep its historic value present in our city,” Gordon said.

The structure was listed on the national and state register of historic buildings. In addition to the items stored in it, the old growth wood and Douglas fir it was built with is now gone.

Twohy Mercantile Building, known as the Bayside Warehouse, was built in 1894

“We’re hopeful that we can preserve some of that history, if we’re able to save that facade,” Ringsred said. “It’s just such a huge part of the Twin Ports history that is obviously gutted. Too bad we couldn’t saved the buildings and done something with them sooner, but see if there’s something that could rise out of these ashes.”

He encouraged residents to let city leaders know if they want to see part of the building saved.

Related Topics: FIRESSUPERIOR
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