Early fire damage estimates at CAH are at more than $550,000
The March 5 fire at the Lewis-Clark State College’s Center for Arts & History building in downtown Lewiston caused an estimated damage of more than $550,000, according to officials hired by insurance companies.
A construction consultant firm, Madsen, Kneppers & Associates, Inc., estimated damage to the building at more than $400,000. Insurance adjustors estimate the damages to the building’s contents at more than $150,000.
A final figure on the damage won’t be available until all property and contents can be examined thoroughly. The building is appraised to be worth more than $1,523,993.
Before anyone can get back inside the building, the asbestos abatement of the building must be completed. The fire revealed asbestos in the building and a company that deals with abatement began work last week. Officials estimated a completion date of the asbestos removal as May 22.
College officials say they are still gathering information on the different costs associated with the building, including cleanup. Also, LCSC officials are waiting to hear from Lewiston city code officials about what requirements are necessary to re-occupy the building. Once college officials receive that information, they will check with the state’s insurance company to find out what costs are covered under the college’s insurance policy.
The cost of the code upgrades, a roof inspection, and a new sprinkling system are among the expected costs, but is unknown what insurance will cover, if any of it.
LCSC President Dene K. Thomas said both college officials and officials from the LCSC Foundation, which owns the building, are working together in the process of eventually determining the future of the building. Both the college and Foundation provide funds for the building, but the decision whether to rebuild will depend on the final costs that insurance won’t cover. Thomas said there isn’t a magical monetary figure that the college and Foundation can afford and it is still too early in the process of making that decision.
However, if the decision is to rebuild, both public and private donations will be needed to help. The Idaho Legislature cut funding to higher education by more than 10 percent for the next fiscal year during its recent session. In turn, the college cut funding to the Center, which was announced prior to the fire.
Kathy Martin, Dean of Community Programs which oversees the Center for Arts & History program, says a conservator with the Idaho Heritage Trust and the associate director with the Idaho State Historical Society will visit the building on June 1-2 to look at the Talkington and Beuk Aie Temple collections to review smoke damage and recommend how to inventory and clean the items. The Talkington collection was in the basement of the building, while the Temple collection was on display on the second floor when the fire broke out.