Investigation ongoing: Markum Inn begins rebuilding

August 2014 Posted in Business
Firefighters responding to the July 20 fire at the Markum Inn. Submitted Photo

Firefighters responding to the July 20 fire at the Markum Inn. Submitted Photo

By Brenna Wiegand

The fire that destroyed Markum Inn on July 20 still remains under investigation with new possibilities being considered beyond it starting in the aging breaker box area.

“So it will be another week or so before we find anything out,” Markum Inn restaurant owner Connie Cummings said.

Thankfully, Cummings said, the investigation won’t impede the rebuilding effort.

“There’s no holdup there,” Cummings said. “The building is full of asbestos so they’re going in there with their monkey suits; everything else is out.” Demolition started the week of Aug. 11.

Deputy State Fire Marshal Dan Jones could not be reached for comment by press time; check for updates.

“At this point in the investigation I don’t think they’ve ruled out anything,” State Fire Marshal Office Public Information Officer Rich Hoover said on Aug. 12.

“Everything still sits where it was originally,” Hoover said. “They think it was electrical in nature; there were numerous electrical violations noted during the last inspection in January and they hadn’t been corrected by the time the fire occurred, so that’s just their initial finding. I’m sure Dan is working with a lot of folks to try and close the lid on things.

“Until you really nail down the cause you’ve got to keep an open mind,” Hoover said. “I can tell you it is still an active investigation but that’s all there is to say.  Nothing’s been finalized and they’re still pursuing what the exact cause was.”

Meanwhile, it’s full steam ahead for Cummings and crew with hosting outdoor events and catering other affairs. On Aug. 10, they served 45 guests in their unscathed outdoor dining area.

“We did all the cooking at Woodburn Drag Strip where Karen Stamps, my catering manager, owns the concessions,” Cummings said.

“She’s done a lot of work to help us do more parties; more catering. We brought the food to the restaurant and barbecued chicken on the Traeger. We served everything out of the pole barn, where we’re set up to do food.”

Cummings said they will be setting up camp at the Boy Scout ranch keeping the troops fed out of their cooking trailer. And they’re hosting a wedding for 120 on Saturday, Aug. 16.

“I’m determined as ever; I’ve got lots of plans,” Cummings said. “I’m going forward with everything; it’s just a matter of time.”

She’s working with an architect on the new building’s design.

“It’ll be pretty amazing,” she said. “I’m going to do it all rustic because that’s what the people want and that’s how Markum was before.” Celebrity and historical photos that have been on the walls for decades were the only things saved. These are being refurbished and will go back up.

A rough estimate of the damage to the structure ranges from $300,000-$400,000.

“And that’s just the building,” Cummings said. “That’s not counting equipment, food or anything.

“There’s nothing left inside the restaurant – absolutely nothing,” Cummings said. “The whole ceiling caved in. It looks good from the outside, like nothing happened, but the inside’s completely gone. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

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