Forsyth County Commissioners have approved funds to repair fire damage to a wastewater building, though there still appear to be some questions about the cause of the fire.
On Tuesday, commissioners approved $50,000 to be spent on the deductible for an insurance claim for repairs to a building at the James Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant after a fire in February. Procurement Director Donna Kukarola said the estimated cost of the work is $414,149.21.
Kukarola said the money would go toward forensic investigations, removal of equipment, restoration services, purchase of new blowers and other items.
On Feb. 6, employees arriving to work at the plant noticed smoke coming from an area of the building. The fire was not detected overnight before employees arrived to work.
At the time, officials with the Forsyth County Fire Department said the fire originated in one of six mechanical “processed air blowers” that the building housed. Fire officials also said they were “confident that this was an accidental mechanical fire” with no human involvement.
When asked by commissioners, Kukarola said the cause of the fire was not yet known.
“That’s still in the investigative [process],” she said. “We have one of the blown motors out that will be taken apart this summer. Right this moment, they consider that the major factor.”
Kukarola said county officials are still looking into the cause.
“It has been a very unusual fire,” Kukarola said. “Even our fire department who first investigated it said we needed forensic investigators because it is very unusual … we’d like to know how it happened and why.”
Tim Perkins, director of the county’s water and sewer department, said maintenance had been done recently before the fire. Like Kukarola, he said the fire was strange.
“They’d actually gone through that equipment the week prior to check everything and do the infrared camera work,” Perkins said. “It’s really odd. Like I said, they are thinking it started in the motor, but there’s nothing in there really to fuel the fire. That’s what’s kind of odd, to have that much heat to spread to five other blowers in this room that is pretty much just concrete. And these are in enclosed metal cases, so what fueled the fire that hot to jump between pieces of equipment is very odd.”