Heidelberg damage totals $1 million

Investigators have yet to determine the cause of the fire.
Wednesday, August 20, 2003 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 7:28 p.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

The three-alarm fire that gutted The Olde Heidelberg restaurant early Monday caused $1 million in damage, fire and insurance officials said Tuesday.

That’s up from an unofficial $250,000 estimated Monday by Battalion Chief Steven Sapp of the Columbia Fire Department. Sapp said then that the figure was on the conservative side.

The new estimate accounts for the ruined contents of the tavern at 410 S. Ninth St. as well as loss of business there and at neighboring Osama’s Coffee Zone. It also includes food spoiled at Osama’s and at Domino’s Pizza, another neighbor, and scrubbing the inside of Osama’s.

“It’s a total loss,” said Dick Walls, owner of the popular 40-year-old Heidelberg.

Fire investigators haven’t identified what caused the blaze, and Sapp said pinpointing it will take time. “This is going to be a long, tough one,” he said.

On Tuesday, construction crews collected debris and loaded remnants of the charred air conditioning and ventilation units onto a flatbed truck to be examined by investigators.

“All we know at this point is that the fire started somewhere between the ceiling and the roof,” said Jim O’Brien, an insurance adjustor with Argonaut Insurance of Peoria, Ill.

Investigators padlocked the scorched site and intend to secure the building’s unstable north and south walls — which border businesses — before they are demolished, Sapp said.

Workers from Aerodry, a Jefferson City fire and water restoration company, have soaked up standing water on the floor of Osama’s and will sanitize the interior of the coffee shop this week, said Aerodry’s Davey Dunham. He said smoke leaked into Osama’s ceiling ventilation system and poured into the dining area.

“Everything you see in here’s got to be wiped down and cleaned,” Dunham said.

Dunham said crews will probably work 12 hours per day this week so that Osama’s can reopen by Friday. He estimated that damage and restoration to Osama’s will run between $20,000 and $30,000.

Walls said he doesn’t expect to reopen before the end of the fall semester. He said he has received e-mails from ’Berg lovers around the world offering sympathy and support. “I’ve got a lot of fond memories over the years,” Walls said.

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