Joint inspection of fire scene will begin next week

By 
Brendan Heidner Ranger-review Staff Writer
Thursday, May 5, 2022
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A joint inspection of the scene of the Ponderosa fire will begin next week. The inspection will require an excavation of debris by heavy machinery and by hand to obtain evidence in an effort to determine the cause of the fire. Brendan Heidner photo

The abatement of the demolished Ponderosa continues, this time with 25 invited entities to participate in a weeklong joint inspection of the scene next week.

Ever since State of Montana Deputy Fire Marshal George Lane released his final investigation report of the Ponderosa fire on March 8 ruling the cause undetermined, Ponderosa owner Dave Bassi’s insurance company – Travelers Insurance – has held their own fire investigation.

On Thursday, April 28, the City of Glendive – along with 24 other interested entities – received a notice of a joint inspection from Travelers Insurance attorney Sean Casey.

“Based on the initial information from witnesses, and observations of responding fire department personnel, it is believed that the fire originated in the basement,” Casey wrote in his letter.

He added the inspection will require an excavation of debris by heavy machinery and hand to obtain evidence for their investigation.

Mayor Teresea Olson noted the inspection is scheduled to begin on Monday, May 9 and run through Friday, May 13 with Wyrick Construction out of Baker continuing the excavation.

“As they are abating (the Ponderosa) and removing the debris, the fire investigators are going to be there to investigate while they are abating the debris,” Olson said.

According to Bassi, he is ready to complete the abatement of his property as soon as the results of next week’s inspection is done.

“Once they’re done with (the inspection), they’re going to release it to me to clean it up,” Bassi said, adding he is currently in Glendive to help with the inspection next week.

The abatement of the Ponderosa has come at no expense to the City of Glendive, Olson noted.

“I think that’s really important, that it is basically the property owner and the insurance company that are and will be responsible for all costs,” she said.

As Bassi prepares to proceed with abatement after next week’s joint inspection, Olson is glad to see the situation nearing its end.

“I think for the whole community, for us to have closure in this event, this traumatic event which basically affected the entire city (and) that is, I think, an exciting thing for all of us is to see that closure start to happen,” Olson said.

Reach Brendan Heidner at news@rangerreview.com.

“I think for the whole community, for us to have closure in this event, this traumatic event which basically affected the entire city (and) that is, I think, an exciting thing for all of us is to see that closure start to happen,” Teresea Olson, Glendive mayor

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