BUTTE — The fire that badly damaged a historic building in Butte started in a storage room on the second floor of the building where several appliances, including a portable heater, were plugged into a power strip.
Butte-Silver Bow fire marshal Brian Doherty said the Jan. 23 fire was ruled accidental.
The building was constructed in 1922 to house the Butte Daily Post newspaper. It housed three bars — the Irish Times Bar, the Post Bar and the Muddy Creek Brewery.
The storage room was between the brewery and the Post Bar and held an ice maker, a microwave, a refrigerator and a beverage cooler. A portable heater was behind the ice maker to keep it from freezing up, as it had in the past, investigators said.
“Each of these appliances should have been plugged into wall outlets, which still may have overloaded the available circuits,” the report states.
Investigators found a burned electrical cord with the plug melted, a burned-up portable heater and a burned power strip with several melted plugs still attached. The refrigerator was plugged into an extension cord coming from the brewery side.
The report says “the burn patterns appear to start near the back of the ice maker and extend out and up from that corner,” and that it’s “difficult to eliminate the burned up power tap as the likely cause of the incident.”