Investigation fails to reveal cause of Gougler Avenue blaze in Kent

By Thomas Gallick | Staff Writer Published:

An investigation into the September blaze that damaged Family & Community Services, Inc.'s building on Gougler Avenue in Kent has failed to determine the cause of the fire.

Mark Frisone, executive director of the social service agency, said the investigation into the fire did not reveal what started the fire or where the blaze began.

He said while the investigation was still under way, F&CS began pushing for a renovation of the damaged portion of the building, which should wrap up this month.

"We are putting the finishing touches on the remodel," he said. "That should be completed by the end of the calendar year."

No one was injured in the fire, which started at about 6 a.m. Sept. 12 and led the city of Kent to close a section of Gougler Avenue.

Fire department officials said the damage to the building would have been more severe if sanitation workers passing the site had not notified the authorities when they saw the fire.

No F&CS employees were in the building when the fire began.

Although only the front third of the building was seriously affected by the fire, it still did an estimated $100,000 in damages to the structure.

Despite the damage, the agency's employees returned to work at the site just five days after the fire to continue providing mental health and addiction services.

"The staff has done a great job in terms of moving folks around to accommodate people," Frisone said. "We've tried to make it (have) as minimal impact on our clients as possible."

Frisone said the organization was flooded with calls from groups and individuals asking how they could help following the fire, adding that the show of good will toward the agency continued throughout the year.

"We've received an outpouring of support from the city of Kent down to churches and individuals" he said.

Contact this reporter at 330-298-1126 or tgallick@recordpub.com

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