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$2.8 million loss in Sebastopol feed store fire, chief says

  • The fire-ravaged remains of the Frizelle Enos Feeds building in Sebastopol on Sunday, July 14, 2013. (BETH SCLANKER/ PD)

The fire destroying Sebastopol's landmark Frizelle Enos Feeds building caused $2.8 million in damage, Sebastopol Fire Chief Bill Braga said Monday.

Braga said the longstanding Petaluma Avenue building was valued at $1.8 million. The lost contents totaled about $1 million.

The investigation into what caused the fire, which fire and police officials are calling suspicious, continued Monday.

Frizelle Enos Fire in Sebastopol

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“There is information causing us to look more deeply into the cause,” Sebastopol Police Chief Jeff Weaver said Monday.

The chief declined to release details regarding the investigation. It's being conducting by Chief Braga and Sgt. Mike Nielsen, Braga said.

“We have received tips from the public and we're following up on those actively. We're using other investigative means to try and (identify) any potential suspect or suspects who may have been involved in the start of the fire,” Weaver said.

Saturday evening's blaze gutted the building, leaving part of a shell and a huge hole near the heart of downtown.

The west county emporium was about 80 years old and Sebastopol's longest-running business.

It was a favorite of backyard farmers and country residents — some who went there weekly for special cat and dog food and other pet needs and others who went periodically for country-style gifts.

The first flames were seen at about 5:40 p.m., in a stack of hay along one outer side of the building, fire officials have said.

The store had closed at 5 p.m. and there was one employee still there, fire officials said.

The flames spread quickly from the hay into the older, back section of the building where the feed and pet supplies were and then burned their way to the front end housing the gift boutique.

“That was the most difficult fire we've had in the city in probably the past 25 to 30 years,” said Braga. “It was the most difficult because of the fuel load inside that building.”

The effort to extinguish it took hours and firefighters remained at the site overnight to make sure the last hot spots were out.

Sebastopol has a volunteer fire department and the large effort was run by Sebastopol volunteers.

Assistant Chief Mike Reeser commanded the effort, overseeing more than 80 firefighters from seven agencies and 25 engines. Sebastopol fire Capt. Mike Elson ran the firefighting operations.

Braga praised his volunteers and was grateful for the mutual aid from the neighboring agencies.

Firefighters saved the only animals in the building, a couple cages of chickens.

You can reach Staff Writer Randi Rossmann at 521-5412 or randi.rossmann@pressdemocrat.com.

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