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Investigation underway at 122 Bar fire
A team of investigators from the Bainbridge Island Fire Department has started work on trying to find the cause of the blaze that destroyed the 122 Bar and Restaurant in Winslow Monday morning.
Bainbridge Island Fire Marshal and Assistant Chief Luke Carpenter said investigators are proceeding cautiously, as the building may collapse.
Carpenter said the restaurant was gutted by the fire.
"The building is unsafe to go into," Carpenter said.
It's still too risky for investigators to enter the building, especially given the weakened nature of the structure and HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) equipment that is on the roof of the restaurant.
"There is always the collapse potential," Carpenter said.
Not being able to enter the building at this point does pose a problem for getting early answers on the cause of the blaze.
"At this stage of the game there really aren't answers. You can't go in there," Carpenter explained.
"If the answers are inside the building, we can't go inside and we can't see them and we can't find them."
Even so, investigators have been busy trying to sort out what happened to the popular downtown nightspot.
"They have already done several hours' worth of interviews with employees and witnesses," Carpenter said.
Investigators are also reviewing photographs that were taken of the fire in the search for clues.
Carpenter could not say when the investigation would wrap up.
Investigators will likely be at the scene of the fire all day.
"We're doing damage assessments and trying to figure out where we can go that's safe, now that the building has stopped burning," Carpenter said.
"Right now they are circling the building to see what they can see. Then they will start to drill in on places that could be the likely places where the fire started," Carpenter said.
The fire was reported just before 5 a.m. Monday.
At the height of the fire, approximately 35 firefighters were battling the blaze, including personnel from the Poulsbo Fire Department, Naval Base Kitsap and North Kitsap Fire & Rescue.
Bainbridge firefighters were still at the scene mid-morning Monday.
"We're still finding hot spots we need to knock down," Carpenter said.
Winslow Way West remains closed between Madison Avenue and Grow Avenue.
Carpenter said the street would likely stay closed for the rest of Monday morning.