Older wiring likely cause of Bisbee City Hall fire

Older wiring likely cause of Bisbee City Hall fire

BISBEE, AZ (Tucson News Now) - The preliminary investigation into what caused the fire at Bisbee's City Hall has been completed.

The fire that began in the early morning hours on Oct. 11 was not arson or from other criminal activity, according to a release from the Cochise County Sheriff's Office.

Investigators and an accelerant sniffing dog from the Gilbert Police Department started the four day examination, after engineers determined the exterior walls were not in danger of collapse.

According to CCSO the fire is believed to have originated on the second floor, in an area that contained an office which was being used as storage during an ongoing renovation project.  The renovation work was mainly cosmetic, but did include electrical work.  The investigation confirmed the electricians recent work had not yet been connected to the building's electrical system and was not energized.

"The building, built in 1909, had several alterations made to it over the last century and evidence of past electrical wiring was observed by investigators.  These older wiring systems could not be ruled out as a cause for the fire due to the internal collapse of the structure."

Interviews of nearly two dozen people, including City Hall employees and non-employees who were working on the remodeling were conducted by investigators, they also used recorded security camera footage from the City Hall and other businesses nearby in the investigation.

U.S. Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the City of Bisbee's Fire Department, Police Department, and Public Works Department assisted the Cochise County Sheriff's Office in the investigation.

"It is unfortunate that this incident claimed a valuable historical landmark, which was not only for the City of Bisbee but for all of Cochise County. Throughout the investigation, the kindness and generosity of our citizens and others who want to restore city government as quickly as possible was evident," said Cochise County Sheriff Mark Dannels. "We are proud to recognize the hard work and dedication of our detectives, agents from ATF, Gilbert Police Department K-9 unit, our Sheriff's Assist Team, the Bisbee Police Department, the Bisbee Fire Department, City of Bisbee employees, and Cochise County government for coming together so quickly to ensure the most comprehensive and professional investigation possible."

CCSO also released the following statement:

The City of Bisbee Mayor David Smith, Interim City Manager Robert Smith, City Clerk Ashley Coronado, Police Chief Albert Echave, and Fire Chief George Castillo want to extend their deepest appreciation to all agencies, businesses and volunteers who assisted in the response to, and investigation of the Bisbee City Hall Fire on Wednesday October 11, 2017.

Chief Echave stressed that all Police Department, Fire Department, EMS and Public Works services, duties and responsibilities have not changed and/or been interrupted.

Please note, however, that some City Government locations and contacts have moved to the Cochise County offices at 1415 Melody Lane:

City Clerk (520-366-7769), City Personnel (520-366-7766), and City Finance (520-366-7768) have moved.

These new phone numbers are temporary, and as soon as possible, original departmental numbers in use prior to the fire will be restored.  Notice of reversion to the original numbers will be provided to the public.

Sewer and garbage bills can be paid at the Bisbee Police Department, Monday through Thursday from 8 am to 4 pm, and at the drop box near the post office in old Bisbee. Payments made at the Police Department may be in cash, check, or money order, and must be for the exact amount of the bill (change cannot be given). Payments made at the Police Department must be accompanied by a city bill showing the amount due, as utility billing systems are not yet fully functional.

Those with questions about making a payment at the Police Department, should call 432-2261.

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