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Another fire hits Carnation

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CARNATION — Another downtown business has fallen to the

flames — the third in less than four months — after a fire destroyed the River

Run Café last week.

A worker at the Texaco gas station across the street spotted smoke

wafting from the building along Tolt Avenue at about 10:30 p.m.

Thursday, Oct. 21. Within minutes, firefighters arrived at the popular restaurant

and they could see smoke and fire coming from the building, said Josie

Williams, a spokeswoman from Eastside Fire and Rescue.

"We started out offensively, going in and fighting the fire, but because

it was a wood structure and how quickly the fire was moving through …

we moved the people out, then we took a defensive mode."

Carnation Councilman Ron Chapin, who witnessed the

blaze's destruction, said at first he mistook the fire's smoke for the nightly mist

that covers the city.

"I saw a haze and I thought the fog was coming in," he said. "But I saw

it was bright colored, so I opened the window, and I could smell the smoke."

"At 10:30, only smoke was visible. Fifteen minutes later, I saw the

whole back end [of the restaurant] in a

blaze," Chapin added.

By midnight the fire was under control, Williams said, but

firefighters weren't able to save the 88-year-old building. The soggy and charred

structure was scheduled to be demolished earlier this week.

The unprecedented Carnation fire streak has some Valley residents

wondering if there's an arsonist on the loose, but officials strongly

believe that isn't the case.

"Every one of these has been a fire with a cause," Williams said.

"These are old buildings with no monitoring systems. So a fire can be there

for awhile before we're called."

Steve Collins, president of the Carnation Chamber of Commerce,

agreed that though the fires were tragic, there doesn't seem to be any evidence

of foul play.

"It's just an odd coincidence, I don't think there's any

malice," Collins said. "It's just the luck of

the draw."

In June, a fire consumed the building that housed Eldorado Stone

and NAPA Auto Parts. Several months later, another Eldorado Stone

building was partly destroyed by a blaze. Officials are still investigating the

cause of the latest fire which left $100,000 damage to the structure and

$75,000 in contents.

The River Run Café, owned by Rick and Debbie Pezzner, was a

popular gathering place for residents and tourists alike. The building was

originally built in 1911 by Dr. W.W. Cheney of Fall City as a drug store

and soda fountain, said Isabel Jones, a longtime Carnation resident and

historian.

Around the mid-1940s, the drug store was converted into a

restaurant and has been serving up local delicacies ever since. Jones said the

Pezzners have owned the restaurant for about five years; she added they hope to

reopen in Carnation.

Rick Pezzner, who could not be reached for further comment,

said briefly, "It's sad. My wife put her whole life into this place."

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