The Ritzville Adams County Journal - Eastern Adams County's Only Independent Voice Since 1887

By Garth Meyer
Gazette Reporter 

Colfax The Fonk's Building Burns on Main Street Tuesday

 

Last updated 3/18/2020 at 3:51pm

The Fonk's building in Colfax burned Tuesday night, its roof collapsing in a fire still being investigated Wednesday morning with no cause yet determined. Three people were sent to the hospital in the incident, including two from neighboring apartments and a firefighter. All have since been released.

Because of the roof collapse and total loss of the building, a concern remains for collapse of the building into Main Street.

Fire crews will be on scene throughout Wednesday. A Pullman Fire Investigator was called in to pursue the cause of the fire.

The fire was first reported at 7:02 p.m. Tuesday with Colfax crews responding to find smoke coming from each side of the two-story brick building.

According to Randy Miller, incident command, firefighters entered the back of the 1892 structure and were quickly met with large flames.

The department then pulled the crew from the inside the building and went into a defensive attack mode.

At 7:45 p.m. the fire was upgraded to a second alarm, which added more outside aid from Palouse area fire departments. It was later upgraded to a third alarm. The fire was contained at approximately 10:13 p.m.

Earlier, to limit heat from the fire to protect neighboring buildings, Colfax's Ladder One and a Pullman ladder crew sprayed water through the top of the building after the roof caved-in.

The fire remained limited to the Fonk's building while some smoke and heat damage affected neighboring apartments on Main Street and Bruning Funeral Home behind it.

The American Red Cross is helping six displaced people.

Main Street in Colfax was closed during the fire response, and remained partially closed Wednesday morning as inspection and investigation continue.

Total crews on scene were 26 apparatus (engines, ladders, ambulances, command and investigation) and approximately 80 volunteers from many agencies.

Aside from Fonk's Coffeehouse in the front, the building held warehouse space for an apparel company. It was originally built to house the Great Eastern Department Store, until 1928, when it became Fonk's Variety Store.

The building has been owned by Steve and Debbie Warwick since 2009.

The City of Colfax has hired a consulting engineer to determine the structural integrity of the building and those nearby.

 

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