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BUILDING DAMAGED IN FIRE IS SALVAGEABLE, ENGINEER TELLS MURRAY

Walls at the Murray park maintenance building are structurally sound, so the facility can be rebuilt at the current site, 300 E. 5100 South, Parks and Recreation director Doug Hill said.

Hill received the good news Thursday in a structural engineer's report on the building, which was damaged in a weekend blaze two weeks ago. Initial damage estimates ranged between $500,000 and $800,000. But current estimates are closer to $500,000.Because the walls remain intact and the city wants to replace its losses with all new vehicles and equipment - while investing in building upgrades - Murray will pay $308,857 in out-of-pocket costs for the blaze, City Attorney Craig Hall said. The insurance company, Rhode Island-based Affiliated FM Insurance, will pick up the rest.

"Obviously, we're pleased with that (structural intactness). It saves us another chunk of money," Jack DeMann, executive assistant to the mayor, said. "As bad as it was, it could have been worse."

There are some cracks in the walls - which contracted, then expanded back to form due to cooling and heating. Also, a couple of old cottonwood trees were lost in fighting the blaze, Hill said.

DeMann said investigators still aren't positive about the cause of the blaze but said officials are attributing it to "an auto combustion of some kind." DeMann noted that most vehicles' fuel tanks were full and that the building, in the middle of Murray Park, sits unprotected in the sun.

Hall projected last week that the building could be enclosed by Nov. 1, "before the snow falls," if the walls were deemed sound. But Hill said Monday that the city has been having a hard time finding contractors interested in tackling the project. He attributed that to the valleywide building boom, saying "people are backed up."

"We haven't received any pricing bids in yet. I'm sure we'll have something in in the next two weeks, then we'll know how we can proceed," Hill said.

In addition to replacing eight licensed vehicles and an assortment of equipment and personal property, Murray will be upgrading the 2-year-old maintenance facility with a sprinkling system and enhanced ventilation. The building itself should cost $150,000 to $200,000 to renovate. Estimated cost of replacing the vehicles is $90,000 to $120,000, and $210,000 to $225,000 is being set aside for equipment replacement, DeMann said.

Early last week, the City Council approved a resolution granting $200,000 in emergency funds to the parks and recreation department to replace equipment and make emergency repairs. An insurance claims check is expected soon.