Sequim fire's cause deemed electrical

By Joe Smillie
Peninsula Daily News

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SEQUIM –– A blaze that burned the building that housed Baja Cantina Mexican restaurant and Sequim Consignment Co. was started by sparks from a malfunctioning wire in the attic, insurance investigators concluded last week.

“They haven't come up with much more,” said Candy Diesen, owner of the 820 W. Washington St. building.

“They did say the investigation is pretty much concluded,” she said.

“They have concluded it wasn't arson.”

She said she plans to rebuild.

Five-hour struggle

The building was all but destroyed by the May 19 fire, which sent columns of black smoke into the sky as firefighters from Clallam County fire districts Nos. 2 and 3 and the city of Port Angeles spent five hours battling the blaze.

They used chain saws to open the building's exterior and roof to reach the fire in the attic.

Patrick Young, spokesman for Fire District No. 3, said the district participated in the investigation only by lending a ladder truck to Traveler's Insurance Co. investigators Tuesday to inspect the site from above.

“That's pretty much where we ended,” Young said.

Diesen, who was out of town for much of last week, said she plans to rebuild but was unsure whether she could reuse the still-standing exterior walls of the building.

“My goal is to rebuild,” she said. “I'm just not sure how much we're going to have to do.

“They told me the exterior walls could still be stable enough that we wouldn't have to tear them down.”

City laws allow burned buildings to be rebuilt on the same site, provided they stay within the same footprint.

Diesen said Jose and Maria Acosta, owners of Baja Cantina, were waiting to see how long a rebuild would take before deciding whether they will wait to reopen in the rebuilt building or find a new location.

Equipment insured

The restaurant's equipment was insured.

Brian Barrick, owner of Sequim Consignment Co. and Diesen's partner, was not sure what he would do, since the stock of the consignment shop could not be insured.


Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Joe Smillie can be reached at 360-681-2390, ext. 5052, or at

Last modified: May 31. 2014 6:32PM
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