By Noah Haglund Herald Writer
EVERETT — Expect brick piles, heat-warped metal and battered awnings from November’s fatal fire to linger on Hewitt Avenue for many weeks to come, and perhaps longer.
A shared wall with a neighboring building is one of the problems to solve before dismantling what remains of the gutted 1894 McCrossen Building.
A city hearing examiner last month said demolition needs to take place by March 15. The building’s owner, Pete Sikov, acknowledged the looming deadline, but this week offered no specific timetable for getting to work.
“I know that the city has issued an order to do a demolition, so we’re certainly willing to do as they request,” Sikov said.
The three-alarm blaze Nov. 8 left one person dead, two people injured and displaced about 40. It destroyed the historic structure, built originally as a grocery, leaving a heap of rubble in the heart of downtown. In all, the building at the corner of Hewitt and Oakes avenues housed 13 apartments and at least three businesses.
Investigators believe the fire started in the room of 61-year-old Michael D. Beard. His death from smoke inhalation was ruled an accident and nothing led investigators to believe anything suspicious caused the fire.
The extent of the damage to the building meant there was too little information available to pinpoint a cause.
Because remnants of the building are in danger of collapsing, the city hearing examiner ordered a sidewalk cover built last month.
Former McCrossen tenants have been frustrated about not being allowed access to the site to retrieve belongings.
Damage extends to a neighboring building at 1812 Hewitt Ave., which shares a common wall. Russ Hermes, the building’s co-owner, said there needs to be a plan to ensure that his building will remain structurally sound before any demolition can move ahead at the McCrossen Building next door.
“We’re seeking to coordinate with all parties to find a resolution that will save our building, if it can be saved,” Hermes said.
Even if Hermes’ building can be salvaged, he expects repairs to take months.
The fire left a patch of blight in the core of Everett’s business district, right across the street from Comcast Arena.
When the corner is redeveloped, Everett’s downtown zoning rules would allow shops, restaurants, office space or apartments, city planning director Allan Giffen said. The code would prohibit using the land for a parking lot.
Noah Haglund: 425-339-3465, firstname.lastname@example.org.